Deaths from Prescription Overdoses Down in Washington State - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Deaths from Prescription Overdoses Down in Washington State

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It's been a problem for years - people overdosing on prescription pain medications. However, another more sinister drug is killing more people now. It's been a problem for years - people overdosing on prescription pain medications. However, another more sinister drug is killing more people now.

KENNEWICK, WA - It's been a problem for years - people overdosing on prescription pain medications. However, another more sinister drug is killing more people now.

Most prescription pain meds like Vicodin or Methadone have drugs in them known as opiates or opioids. They are powerful, potentially addictive and they can be deadly. In 2012, 388 people died of overdosing on those types of drugs. That's down from more than 500 in 2008.

The Department of Health claims the overdose death rate dropped by 27%. However, at the same time it seems more people are turning to street drugs that you don't need a prescription for and are just as deadly.

"We have seen an increase in deaths from heroin. So we will need to be monitoring that and again be making sure the people who do suffer from substance abuse are not just trading one drug for another," said Dr. Amy Person of the Benton-Franklin Health District.

A total of 231 people died of heroin overdoses in 2012 compared to 146 in 2008.

The Department of Health credits the drop in pain med deaths to programs like the Drug Take Back days and the Prescription Monitoring Program. That allows hospitals to share information more freely about patients and what medications they're getting.
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