Painkiller Abuse Called an Epidemic in Nevada - 8 News NOW

Painkiller Abuse Called an Epidemic in Nevada

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LAS VEGAS -- Nevada lawmakers and drug treatment councilors are calling prescription pain medication abuse an epidemic.

According to a new report by the non-profit, non-partisan organization Trust for America's Health, prescription drug overdoses resulting in death have quadrupled over the past decade.

The report ranks Nevada fourth in the country for overdoses. West Virginia is ranked the worst in the country.

There is a silver lining to the report, out of the ten indicators that show a state is making progress in battling the epidemic, like available treatment centers and laws to curb drug abuse, Nevada gets a seven.

Josh, who only wants to go by his first name, knows all to well the struggle with painkiller abuse. He now works at the Las Vegas Recovery Center, but nine years ago he was being treated for prescription drug abuse.

"Detox is horrific." Josh said.

Over the last decade, he has noticed a change. More and more patients are being treated for painkiller abuse like he was.

"We admit hundreds of people every year and a vast majority of those are prescription medication." Josh said.

The number of people who never make it to treatment centers is growing too, according to the report, which says in Nevada more than 20 people per 100,000 die from painkiller overdose every year.

The group's spokesperson says the country is in peril.

"This translates to about 50 Americans dying each day from prescription painkiller overdoses," Jeff Levi, with Trust for America's Health, said.

The report goes on to show ideas on how to curb the problem, including police drug-take-back events where people can drop off pills to be destroyed.

Nevada is one of the leading states in that effort. State Senator Tick Segerblom has been trying to curb statewide drug abuse. He says 500 people a year overdose in Clark County.

"Paramedics that say they go to locations and find somebody with an overdose and the pills around the person is just astronomical," Segerblom said.

Segerblom would also like to see easier access to treatment centers so people struggling with drugs can meet with administrators like Josh and recover like Josh did.

The report goes on to show that drug problems cost the country $53.4 billion a year.

To see the report, go to healthyamericans.org.

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