Prescription-drug deaths doubled between 1995 and 2004. Meanwhile, 2,500 teenagers every day abuse a prescription pain killer for the first time, and 1 in 20 high-school seniors is said to have tried OxyContin.

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Every day, 2,500 kids age 12-17 abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Police.

In this state, accidental deaths associated with the use of prescription opioids more than doubled between 1995 and 2004, putting it ahead of illegal drugs, according to data from the Department of Health. (Opioids are a family of pain-relieving drugs chemically related to opium.)

At least one in every 20 high-school seniors has tried OxyContin in the past year, according to a survey of 50,000 teenagers by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

On Jan. 22, 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger died at age 28 from an accidental overdose of prescription painkillers, including oxycodone, the main ingredient in the prescription drug OxyContin, and hydrocodone, the primary pain reliever in the prescription drug Vicodin.

Last year, the government fined Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, $634 million for misleading doctors by failing to tell them of its high potential for addiction.

This fall, the state’s Healthy Youth Survey, which is administered every two years, will for the first time include two questions about whether teens use painkillers, “such as Vicodin, OxyContin, or Percocet” to get high.

Kevin Beck, the survey’s coordinator, said the questions on painkillers were added at the suggestion of public-health workers, counselors and educators.

“We don’t readily make changes,” Beck said. “There was a need to take a look at this.”