Painkillers Often Supplied by Friends

RENO, NV - The number of deaths associated with the overdose of prescription pain relievers has tripled since 1999 to about 16,000 deaths a year.

That's twice as much as heroin and cocaine.

Unlike *those* drugs which usually come from a drug dealer...

A new study shows most prescription pain reliever abusers are getting their drugs free from friends and family.

“40% of all prescriptions written go unused. So you know, are we over prescribing? Are the quantities too big, too much? I don't know, but bottom line is, that's nearly 1/2 of what's prescribed is just sitting in people's medicine cabinet,” says Larry Pison with Nevada's Pharmacy Board.

The study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, shows while those who abuse pain killers do "doctor shop," meaning they found more than one physician to write a prescription, just as many reported getting them free from friends or relatives.

Only 15% say they bought the drugs from dealers.

A chart from Health and Human Services shows how it works.

When you consider a vast majority of patients get their prescriptions filled by physicians, it means there's a wealth of pain killers to be had at any given home.

Which is exactly where the drug abuser looks first.

“Make an appointment with a real estate agent to look at houses, and then once they are in the house they roam through the medicine cabinets in that house to see if there are any drugs in them,” says Pinson.

If you are worried about your prescription pain killers leaving the bathroom and landing in the hands of an abuser, you might want to ask your doctor to fill a smaller pain killer prescription for those minor procedures.

And then when you are done, dispose of the pills properly.