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Number of fatal drug overdoses in North Carolina increases

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Officials say fatal drug overdoses in North Carolina have jumped from 2002 to 2014.

The Charlotte Observer reports federal data shows that overdoses killed as many as 16 people per 100,000 residents in the state in 2014 compared to about nine people per 100,000 in 2002.

While all 100 counties in North Carolina saw overdose deaths rise, the problem appears most acute in the mountains and foothills.

Experts say growing addiction to prescription painkillers is driving the trend.

A 2014 report from the North Carolina Program Evaluation Division says those drugs, also known as opioids, killed more people in the state in 2010 than alcohol, cocaine and heroin combined.

The report also found that overdose death rates were generally higher in places where doctors wrote the most prescriptions for opioid drugs.

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