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Coco Warner Reporting According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Utah leads the nation in nonmedical painkiller abuse.
It's a sobering thought, but what this means is 6.5 percent of Utahns are using prescription drugs without a doctor's approval, and even more disturbing--they're dying from it.
The study was released last week, and it points out that most prescription drug abusers are under the age of 25. Of those abusing prescription painkillers, 7.88 percent are 12 to 17 years old, 13.49 percent are 18 to 25 years old, and just 4.32 percent are over age 25.
Christy Porucznik, state epidemiologist: "If you have extra prescription drugs, you shouldn't share them with anyone else or leave them where someone could take them without your knowledge. Because when we are seeing these higher numbers of recreational drug use of prescription drugs--especially among younger people--I mean that's probably where they're getting them."
These statistics also correspond with another dangerous trend. Utah is seeing a large increase in fatal prescription drug overdoses.
According to the health department, 265 Utahns died from prescription drug overdose last year. That number is twice as high as deaths caused from illegal drugs.
Lynn Webster, M.D., Lifetree Clinical Research and Pain Clinic: "Certainly if the community begins to appreciate the seriousness of utilizing these medications in ways they are not intended, then I think we can eliminate the problem."
Dr. Webster has launched a campaign he calls "Zero Deaths." For more information, follow the link on our website.