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Prescription Drug Abuse Woes in New Jersey [AUDIO]

A new report finds New Jersey has fewer drug overdose deaths than most other states, but prescription drug abuse is still a major problem.

Prescription Drugs
Flickr User Charles Williams

The Trust for America’s Health study finds the number of drug overdose deaths in the Garden State has increased by 51 percent since 1999, but New Jersey still has the 11th lowest overdose mortality rate in the nation.

“While New Jersey’s overdose mortality rate is relatively low, there’s a real concern that the prescription drug epidemic is becoming a gateway to more people using heroin – it’s cheaper, easier to get,” says the Deputy Director of Trust for America’s Health, Rich Hamburg.

He point out sales of prescription painkillers have quadrupled in the past decade, “and at the same time, prescription drug misuse was responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined – it’s a major problem.”

Hamburg stresses more must be done to get the word out to New Jersey residents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

“W need to have better education of teens, young adults and their parents – make sure there more aware of the potential that certain pain medications – prescription or not,” he says. “They can become addictive, they can be misused, and that also goes for health care providers too. Doctors, dentists, who with good intention are prescribing medications, wanting to help their patients, but they’re not receiving adequate training on how those medications can be misused.”

The report was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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