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Prescriptions Drugs Tops for Abuse

More fatal ODs from prescriptions than from heroin and cocaine.

The most recent figures show Pennsylvania with  the 14th highest number of drug overdose deaths in the country. Locally, health officials say the culprit in most of these overdoses is a drug combo you may not have heard of.

Fifteen out of every 100,000 Pennsylvanians die of a drug overdose. In most cases, it's listed as multi-drug toxicity.

That's usually not a combination of illegal drugs like  heroin and cocaine. More likely,  it's a different form of opiates--prescription narcotics, often obtained illegally, medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.

In 2012, Cambria County had 29 accidential overdose deaths. Last year, that number jumped to 49. Most were prescription drug overdose

Somerset County's reported 23 overdose deaths in the past couple of years. Most were due to prescription drug combos, but the toll included six  heroin deaths--a jump for that area.

In recent years, Blair County has averaged 22 to 25 overdose deaths a year, mainly prescription narcotics.

Blair County Drug and Alcohol Program Executive Director Judy Rosser says,"that's where the complications come in, especially when youre using different types of drugs, the fact that they think they're safer, but they're very pure and so they're much more dangerous and they can end  up in an overdose situation very easily."

Rosser says efforts are underway to get to substance abusers before their fatal dose. The focus is on identifying them when they seek emergency room care for an overdose and immediatley moving them into treatment.

To help save lives, she says if you see someone you think has passed out, call 911. Emergency personnel can tell whether it's an overdose and can give  life-saving treatment on the spot. Waiting could be fatal.

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