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Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse in the United States: Current Activities and Future Opportunities
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    The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented drug overdose epidemic. Drug overdose death rates have increased five-fold since 1980.1 By 2009, drug overdose deaths outnumbered deaths due to motor vehicle crashes for the first time in the U.S. Prescription drugs, especially opioid analgesics, have been increasingly involved in drug overdose deaths.2 Opioid analgesics were involved in 30% of drug overdose deaths where a drug was specified in 1999, compared to nearly 60% in 2010. Opioid-related overdose deaths now outnumber overdose deaths involving all illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine combined.3 In addition to overdose deaths, emergency department visits, substance treatment admissions and economic costs associated with opioid abuse have all increased in recent years.
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