Accidental drug overdose deaths continue to increase in Rhode Island. That’s some of the discouraging news public health experts delivered at a Rhode Island Public Health Association event.
In 2014, 239 Rhode Islanders died from accidental drug overdoses, either from prescription painkillers like Vicodin or heroin, or both. That number has risen 70 percent in the last five years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Members of an opioid overdose task force are presenting the most recent data on efforts to turn the trend around. Epidemiologist Traci Green and colleagues say most doctors are not making use of the online prescription monitoring database to track signs of prescription abuse. Health care providers have also not taken enough advantage of a program that helps them refer patients who need addiction treatment immediately. The group also says the increasing availability of the overdose antidote drug naloxone has helped save nearly 180 lives since the beginning of this year.
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