UK study shows alarming increase in drug overdoses

LONDON, Ky. (WKYT) - They are designed to cure pain…but experts say prescriptions such as Oxycodone or Oxycontin often send people to the emergency room or even to their graves.

Amy Yates is Operation Unite’s treatment director. She says she has witnessed the horror of drug abuse personally.

“My own family members have passed away from drug overdoses,” said Yates, inside her Laurel County office of the drug treatment, education, and law enforcement organization.

Helping people curb their addictions is now part of her profession.

“You may start out with back pain and it goes from there. You feel the need to have medication all the time,” said Yates of need she’s witnessed people have once they get addicted to pain meds.

The study found out that there were 6 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2000…yet that number jumped up to almost 23 people per 100,000 in 2010.

That’s an increase of 282% in 10 years.

“It is very sad and unfortunate. Heartbreaking to see families left to pick up the pieces,” said Yates.

Kentucky lawmakers addressed the problem last year, passing a bill that makes it easier to track prescription abuse. During that debate, officials said that more were dying from what’s in their medicine cabinets..than in car accidents. Many go to extremes to satisfy their addictions.

“You have to have more every time. 2 pills doesn’t do it. You have to have more,” said Yates.

The study found that 53% of the deaths were from prescription drugs..and the highest rates were in eastern Kentucky.

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