Study: Methadone increasingly found in drug overdose deaths

By Web Producer
By NBC News

Study: Methadone increasingly found in drug overdose deaths

July 3, 2012 Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 2:10 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While the drug methadone only makes up 2 percent of painkiller prescriptions, it is responsible for a third of painkiller overdose deaths, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new report analyzed national drug data from 1999 to 2010.

During that time, 4 out of every 10 deaths from a painkiller involved methadone, which is 2 times higher than any other pain reliever.

Methadone was originally used to help heroin addicts, but has been increasingly used as a painkiller. The drug builds up in the body over time and can disrupt breathing and heart rhythm.

Researchers found 6 times as many people died from methadone overdoses in 2009 compared to 10 years earlier.

Many general practitioners, who don't have experience prescribing complex drugs like methadone, are writing prescriptions for the drug. Experts say methadone should not be a first choice pain reliever.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.