June 25, 2011
Painkillers continue to
plague Washington. The state had the nation’s sixth-highest rate of self-reported, non-medical use of
prescription painkillers in 2007-2008. On June 27, the Washington State Department of Health will hold a hearing
on rules aimed at helping to turn that around.
Isaac Kaplan-Woolner spoke with an official
at the Department of Health about a proposal to keep track of where, when, and by whom narcotic prescriptions are
The DOH notes that prescription drug misuse is both a national and a local
problem. It’s caused an alarming growth in overdose deaths, hospitalizations, admissions for substance
abuse, and other non-medical use, according to a news release out Thursday.
In Washington, deaths involving
unintentional prescription pain reliever overdoses increased nearly 21-fold from 24 in 1995 to 490 in 2009. In the
past decade, the numbers of hospitalizations for prescription pain reliever dependence and abuse have doubled,
hospitalizations for methadone poisoning have increased five-fold, and poisoning hospitalizations from other
prescription pain relievers have increased four-fold.