Over Seven Years, Prescription Drug Overdoses Killed Nearly Five People Per Day in Florida

We all know that many Floridians have been getting high over the past few years, but a new report says they've been getting way, way too high -- to the point of death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a "morbidity and mortality" report chronicling drug overdose deaths in Florida, saying 16,550 people in Florida died from drug overdoses between 2003 and 2009, with an annual increase of 61 percent.

If you happened to check out another news outlet's coverage of the study -- which can be found here -- it got a couple of key facts completely wrong.

Such as, the CDC compiled data for the years 2003 through 2009, that's seven years -- not six, as otherwise reported.

The article also states that 16,650 people died from prescription drug overdoses, which -- unless heroin and cocaine are prescription drugs -- isn't true either.

So here are the real facts from the CDC study:

A total of 16,550 people died from drug overdoses from 2003 through 2009, just under 12,600 of those being prescription drug deaths.

Over the seven-year stretch, an average of 6.5 people died per day from drug overdoses, with that number peaking at eight people per day in 2009. Around five people died per day from prescription drug overdoses over the seven years.

The number-one killer of all drugs -- oxycodone.

When the data starts in 2003, cocaine was the highest killer in Florida, taking 3.2 per 100,000 of population, followed by methadone and oxycodone.

By 2009, oxycodone was the new king killer, with deaths of 6.4 per 100,000 population, followed by alprazolam and methadone.

Although cocaine was dethroned as causing the most drug overdoses, the number of cocaine-overdose deaths barely decreased -- from 3.2 per 100,000 to 2.8.

In general, though, overdoses from all illegal drugs decreased, while lethal overdoses from all prescription drugs -- and alcohol -- increased over the seven years.

By 2009, four times as many people died from prescription drug overdoses compared to illegal drugs.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley