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Press Release

Manhattan U.S. Attorney, DEA New York Special Agent In Charge, New York County District Attorney, And Rockland County District Attorney Launch Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Public Service Announcements

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Cyrus Vance, Jr., the New York County District Attorney; and Thomas Zugibe, the Rockland County District Attorney, announced today the release of two public service announcements addressing the dangers of prescription drug abuse and how parents can keep their children safe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 46 people die each day from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the United States.  The rate of prescription painkiller overdoses has more than quadrupled since 1999 and is now the leading cause of injury death, causing more deaths than motor vehicle traffic accidents annually.

Teens and young adults, who mistakenly believe prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs, are abusing pills at an alarming rate.  One in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, a 33 percent increase since 2008.

The increase in the use of prescription drugs has also led to an explosion of heroin abuse. The recent national heroin abuse rate is 19 times higher among those who reported prior use of prescription pain relievers than among those who did not report such use.  And four out of every five people who try heroin for the first time admit to having abused prescription pain relievers first.

Here in New York State, young adults are seeking treatment for opioid and heroin addiction at historic rates.  The number of people who sought treatment increased 136 percent from 2004 to 2013.  In particular, upstate New York, with a 222 percent increase in admissions, and Long Island, with a 242 percent increase, have been hard-hit by this problem.

The PSAs released today provide tips on how parents can dispose of prescription drugs safely, since the home medicine cabinet is the number-one source of prescription pills for teens and young adults.

The PSAs can be found here:  Media requesting a high resolution version can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Public Affairs.

Updated October 29, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-276