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Overdose Deaths from Painkillers and Prescription Opioids Continue to Rise

Although drug overdose deaths from “hard” drugs like cocaine are on the decline, overdose deaths caused by painkillers and other prescription drugs are trending in the opposite direction, according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2014, more than 17,000 people died due to overdoses of cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs. Meanwhile, the total number of overdose deaths stemming from prescription opioids exceeded 25,000. The National Center for Health Statistics, which is affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examined death statistics from 2014 and found that the number of prescription drug ODs reached an all-time high. The jump in painkiller overdose deaths is particularly staggering in light of the fact that the total number of prescription drug-related deaths has more than doubled since 2001.

The prescription drug of choice for those abusing medication appears to be benzodiazepines (also called “benzos”), which accounted for almost 8,000 drug OD deaths. Whether the prescription medication being abused was hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine or some other form of prescription opioid, the end result was the same for far too many people: an overdose followed by the tragic loss of life.

The scope of the prescription drug abuse problem has led some health officials to call it an “epidemic.” At the same time, lawmakers in more than a few states are pushing for greater regulation of prescription drugs and less regulation of marijuana. In 23 states, including New Jersey, marijuana has been legalized in at least a limited form for medical use. However, most states, also including New Jersey, have yet to legalize pot in all instances. As a result, most individuals caught in possession of marijuana can be charged with a crime and face severe penalties.

For further information about the staggering number of prescription drug overdose deaths, see the Huffington Post article, “Here’s How Many People Fatally Overdosed on Marijuana Last Year.”


If you were arrested for possession of prescription drugs, cocaine possession, simple possession of marijuana or any other drug offense in New Jersey, you should speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. The knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC can help you beat your criminal charges and stay out of jail. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

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