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The number of narcotic-related emergency room visits in New York City jumped 40 percent between 2004 and 2009, according to a survey by the city’s Department of Health. Painkillers are now the second-most commonly used illegal drugs, behind marijuana, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The survey found 850,000 New Yorkers, or about 14 percent of the population over age 12, said they used marijuana during 2008 and 2009. An estimated 263,000 used opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

“What we’re seeing is a striking shift to prescription medications as the drugs of choice, in parallel with a national epidemic of prescription opioid overdose,” Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told the newspaper.

According to the survey, 5.5 percent of students in grades 7 to 12 reported using marijuana in the past 30 days; 4.7 percent said they used opioids in the past month.


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