Overdose Statistics Prompt New Recommendations on Painkillers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been known for a while that deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses have surpassed deaths from traffic accidents in the U.S. Now there's a call from a top doctors' group to clamp down on painkiller prescriptions.

The American College of Physicians has issued a new recommendation for prescribers and policy makers that calls for an effort to educate, prevent, diagnose, and treat all substance abuse and supports the establishment of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.  

About 16 million Americans are abusing pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants or sedatives, and most report their supply came from a friend or relative -- in 50 percent of teens, they were getting them from their own home. The burden of this addiction costs taxpayers over $500 billion in health care, law enforcement and crime.

Unintentional overdose deaths involving prescription opioids now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined.

"Expect to see fewer pills per prescription, a mandatory visit to the doctor to get a renewal and no more prescriptions over the phone," says ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.

Watch the ABC News report from World News with Diane Sawyer:

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