A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says the researchers examined drug overdose deaths in Florida from 2003 to 2009, and during the seven-year study period, the death rate involving prescription drugs increased by 84.2 percent.
The greatest increase was observed in the oxycodone death rate, which rose 264.6 percent, followed by alprazolam at 233.8 percent and methadone use by 79.2 percent, the report says.
Heroin rates dropped 62.2 percent, while cocaine rates rose until 2007 and then declined in 2008 and 2009.
"However, by 2009, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs in Florida was four times the number involving illicit drugs," the report says. "States need to strengthen interventions aimed at reducing such overdoses and implement surveillance systems that are able to track patterns of drug use and the impact of prevention measures in a timely way."