• Trends In Unintentional Drug Overdose-related Deaths

      Sharer, Rustan; The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; Petitti, Diana (The University of Arizona., 2012-05-01)
      Since undergoing a radical paradigm shift in prescribing trends in the late 80s/early 90s, the therapeutic use and non-therapeutic abuse of controlled prescription drugs (specifically opioids) has reached prolific levels in the US. Despite seemingly widespread awareness of such trends and associated dangers, mortality and morbidity associated with such medications continues to escalate in the face of rapidly increasing prescribing patterns. This investigation attempts to further characterize time trends of accidental deaths secondary to overdoses of various drugs (primarily comparing Arizona to national trends with respect to various demographic identifiers). Utilizing publicly available data sources, a statistical analysis was performed on yearly mortality rates for selected drug-overdose related causes of death between 1999 and 2007. Arizona consistently exhibited higher death rates--with Pinal County claiming the highest among all urbanizations--(but lower annual rates of increase) than the national trends. Men were also shown to have much higher death rates than women (although women’s rates are increasing much faster than men). Furthermore, Hispanics demonstrated significantly lower death rates than non-Hispanics (whose death rates were shown to be increasing three times faster than Hispanics). Rapidly increasing death rates pose a significant concern at both the state and national levels.