The number of US citizens dying from drug overdoses has risen for the 11th year in a row, according to the latest figures. However, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug-related deaths are mostly associated with addictive painkillers.

The figures, which were for 2010, revealed that there were 38,329 deaths with as many as six in ten being related to prescription drugs. Speaking of the rise, Dr Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC, said: "The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly."

Frieden added that many patients and their doctors fail to realise the risk of becoming addicted to opoid drugs and as a result these are both prescribed and taken when less risky alternatives for pain relief would be equally effective.