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Deaths Due To Illegal And Prescription Drugs Rise

Audio

Aired 7/8/11

Deaths from car crashes were down in San Diego last year, but fatalities linked to prescription and illegal drugs were up. The County Medical Examiner's 2010 report lists the leading causes of non-natural deaths.

— Illegal and prescription drugs were the biggest contributors to non-natural deaths in San Diego last year. The county medical examiner's new report reveals some disturbing trends.

Cardiovascular disease remained the leading cause of death in San Diego County. But the new report shows the next most common causes were illicit and prescription drugs.

Deputy Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas said there was a jump in deaths caused by heroin. In fact, Dr. Lucas said 71 San Diegans died from heroin-related deaths last year.

"For every one death that comes to our office," Lucas said, "the question I have is how many more are out there using every single day, and how many more are going to show up at our office?"

Lucas said prescription-related deaths also rose in 2010.

In contrast, motor-vehicle deaths dropped to their lowest level in 20 years.

Accidental falls became the third leading cause of non-natural death. Lucas said with the growing population of seniors, that trend will likely continue to grow.

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