Published: Jun 17, 2010 6:42 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 17, 2010 3:27 PM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) - For the first time, emergency room visits from
the abuse of medicines have become as common as those from illegal

According to a new government report, ERs in 2008 saw about 1
million visits from the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter
medicines - mostly painkillers and sedatives. That was about the
same number of visits from people overdosing on heroin, cocaine and
other illegal drugs.

Health officials are not sure why painkiller abuse is increasing
so dramatically, but the number of prescriptions has been