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The number of deadly drug overdoses in the United States increased for the 11th consecutive year, according to new government data. More than 22,000 people died of overdoses involving prescription drugs in 2010.

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Prescription opioid overdoses rose seven-fold in New York City from 1990 to 2006, according to researchers at Columbia University. They found the increase in drug overdoses was due to painkillers. Methadone overdoses remained stable, and heroin overdoses decreased during the same period.

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A program that teaches people to recognize and respond to overdoses of opioids can significantly decrease the number of overdose deaths, researchers at Boston Medical Center have found.

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While many programs aimed at prescription drug abuse focus on how to stop diversion of medications, an often overlooked but critical issue is preventing and treating opioid overdoses, according to a Brown University researcher.

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For more than one-third of Texas’ Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who died after leaving the military, the cause was a drug overdose, a deadly combination of drugs, or suicide, according to an investigation by the Austin American-Statesman.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described the country’s sharp rise in overdoses over the last decade from prescription painkillers, or opioids, as an epidemic. But it can be easy to lose sight of what “epidemic” truly means.

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A new study finds elevated rates of suicides and overdose deaths in the month after people have been released from the hospital for substance abuse treatment. Researchers found death rates were substantially higher for those who had been out of the hospital for less than one month, compared with those who had been out for at least one year.

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Naloxone, the drug carried by ambulances to reverse overdoses, is also available in some states to be administered by trained members of the general public who might be present when an overdose occurs. Many lives have been saved by bystanders, and increasingly, notice is being taken of community-based naloxone distribution, says Dr. Sharon Stancliff of the Harm Reduction Coalition.

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Advocates around the nation are pushing for state laws that give people limited immunity on drug possession charges if they seek medical help for someone suffering from an overdose, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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A physician accused of prescribing drugs to three young men who died of overdoses was ordered to stand trial for second-degree murder, the Associated Press reports.

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