Accidental Overdose Deaths Triple in Texas - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Accidental Overdose Deaths Triple in Texas

Research finds that most accidental overdose deaths were related to prescription drugs



    Fatal accidental overdoses in Texas have increased by 150 percent since 1999 -- and the majority of them involve legal, prescription drugs.

    According to the Drug Policy Alliance, deaths from accidental overdoses in Texas climbed from 790 in 1999 to 1,987 in 2007.

    The same research found that legal prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and Xanax contributed to more overdose deaths than illicit drugs such as heroin or crack or powder cocaine.

    Ann Miller, the executive director of Caron Texas, said it is a nationwide problem.

    Big Jump in Fatal Accidental Overdoses in Texas Since 1999

    [DFW] Big Jump in Fatal Accidental Overdoses in Texas Since 1999
    Fatal accidental overdoses, most involving prescription drugs, have increased by 150 percent.
    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011)

    "I think people really need to know that combinations of these drugs are really dangerous," she said.

    She said drug treatment centers such as Caron Texas are seeing more "prescription cocktail" combinations.

    "I think it's an epidemic, honestly," Miller said. "I don't think people think -- many people don't think too much about borrowing medication from other people."

    Miller said that high-functioning, successful people can get caught in the trap.

    "I think the stress is high, and this is a way to cope," she said. "A stimulant like Adderall for energy, Ambien or other sleeping medications to sleep at night -- it's sort of part of the lifestyle."

    Richard, a 47-year-old man who asked that his last name not be used, said he became addicted to Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug.

    "I remember times when I would wake up on the floor, looking up, and my son would be like, 'Let's help daddy,' because I am wiped. It's that vicious," he said.

    Richard's picture-perfect life includes a beautiful wife, three children and a successful career.

    "(You think), 'This is a perfectly normal thing. It's a prescription medication. It's OK,'" he said.

    Richard said he sometimes mixed Ativan with alcohol. His life started to spiral out of control, and his family eventually staged an intervention, he said.

    "I don't think you know the potential of what these things can do in combination with anything," he said.

    Richard went through Caron's program and is now sober.

    "I'll be honest, it got to the point where one of two things was going to happen, and luckily I'm sitting here," he said.

    Richard said he hopes his story can be a wake-up call.

    "I'm grateful every day I plant my feet on the floor, waking up," he said.

    More: Prescription Drug Overdoses on the Rise at Caron Texas