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KPBS Evening Edition

New Report Shows Drop In Prescription Drug Abuse

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Last year saw a drop in deaths related to prescription drugs in San Diego County, county officials reported Friday.

The latest regional "Prescription Drug Abuse Report Card" revealed that fatalities due to prescription medications decreased 3.36 percent in 2013, compared with 2012 — from 268 to 259. Additionally, the study showed decreases in the following areas over the same period:

• Fewer adults seeking treatment for painkiller addiction

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• Fewer juvenile arrestees who reported abusing prescription drugs

• Fewer pharmacy burglaries and robberies

• Fewer prosecutions of prescription-drug fraud

• Fewer 11th-graders reporting abuse of legal medications

"Our efforts to reduce access to and increase awareness of the prescription drug problem in San Diego are paying off," Supervisor Dave Roberts said this morning during a briefing about the findings.

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Conversely, the survey uncovered the following negative trends:

• More emergency room visits due to painkillers

• More adult arrestees misusing prescription drugs

• An increase in heroin deaths

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said it’s a persistent problem among teens and adults in the county. "We see overdoses from heroin and prescription drugs increasing, so there's still a lot of education to do out there," he said.

But the sheriff also says a pilot program with naloxone has saved 10 people from overdosing on heroin in its first six months. Naloxone is an antidote to opiates such as heroin and Oxycontin. Gore says the naloxone program is being expanded next year.

New Report Shows Drop In Prescription Drug Abuse