More than half of all Americans either know someone who has misused prescription painkillers, or have done so themselves. And an astonishing 16 percent say they know someone who died from using these drugs, according to  the latest Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll.

Whites are more likely than blacks and Hispanics to report a personal connection to prescription painkiller abuse (63% vs. 44% and 37%, respectively).

The poll comes days after the Inquirer's Don Sapatkin reported that Pennsylvania leads the nation - New Jersey is fourth - in drug overdose deaths among young adult men. Among the toll was Bucks County's Mike Pelone, shown here, who died at age 23 of a drug overdose in 2010 despite having gone through rehab three times, his father told Sapatkin.

Over the last decade, the prescription drug epidemic has killed more than twice as many Americans as homicide, spurring calls for political and law enforcement action to stop the flow of drugs and help those who are addicted. Among other recent measures, state and federal authorities are making more widely available the drug naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opiate overdose.


Read more from the Check Up blog »