Prescription Drug Overdoses Spur New Guidelines for Marin County Doctors - NBC Bay Area
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Prescription Drug Overdoses Spur New Guidelines for Marin County Doctors

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    Marin County's public health officer has sent out an advisory to every doctor in the county with new guidelines for prescribing narcotics after many people have died from prescription drug overdoses. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015)

    Doctors in Marin County are receiving new guidelines for prescribing narcotics in response to prescription drug overdoses.

    Dr. Matt Willis, who serves as the county's public health officer, said many people are dying from prescription drug overdoses in Marin County and it has become an epidemic.

    "We have one accidental death from an overdose every two weeks and the majority of those are due to prescription drugs," Willis said.

    Officials said drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in Marin County, and the majority are due to prescription drugs.

    Doctors are also prescribing pain medications at an unprecedented rate, Willis said, which prompted him to send out a public health advisory to every doctor in the county. The number of narcotics prescribed in Marin County doubled between 2004 and 2014, Willis said.

    Willis in his advisory is urging doctors to explain the risks, consider alternatives and encourage patients to discard drugs they no longer need in special drop boxes across the county.

    "Doctors want what's best for their patients and we're realizing the medicines we thought were helpful in some cases are causing more harm than good," Willis said. "There's plenty of other options before we reach for a very powerful drug that could create harm."

    Trey Lagomarsino overdosed on codeine cough syrup two years ago. His mother, Susan Kim, said her 23-year-old son overdosed when he and a friend were mixing codeine with soda for kicks.

    "He took too much one night and went to sleep and never woke up," Kim said.

    Kim hopes doctors and parents heed the warning. The pain of losing her son to something designed to take pain away can never be erased.

    "Every day, all day long. It never goes away," Kim said. "Time is not going to heal it. You just have to deal with it."

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