Overdose deaths show prescription drug problem

New numbers from the GBI show drug overdose deaths in Georgia decreased last year, but those numbers also highlight the problem of prescription drug abuse.

Overdose deaths dropped 8.6%. Of the 664 drug overdose deaths in 2011, 512 involved prescription drugs.

Xanax was blamed for the largest number by far, 231. That's followed by pain relievers Oxycodone with 188 and Methadone which caused 158 deaths. Cocaine was the top illicit drug on the list, responsible for 89 deaths.

Pharmacists say it's vital to follow the directions for prescription medication. "A lot of people take prescription drugs, and they think if one is good two is better, and that's not always the case. Most drugs have a certain prescribing regimen. Like, some drugs are prescribed for one a day or two a day or three a day, and they're not meant to exceed that," said Chris Cleveland, a pharmacist at Albany's Doc Heilinbel's Pharmacy.

The numbers did not include deaths in seven metro Atlanta counties. The largest number of fatal overdoses occurred in the 45 to 54 age group.

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