Survey: Younger people, women make up most people who overdose on OTC drugs

A health ministry survey of people in Japan who overdosed on over-the-counter drugs found they were overwhelmingly women and young.

A research team at the ministry conducted the survey with support from Saitama Medical University Hospital and other institutes.

The researchers surveyed 122 people who were hospitalized after abusing painkillers and fever-reducing medication during the 20-month period through last December.

They found the average age of the respondents was 25.8, with the youngest being 12. Women accounted for 79.5 percent of the total.

Around 34 percent of the people surveyed were school or university students, while 26.2 percent were full-time workers. More than 80 percent were living with their families or partners at the time.

The survey also found that more than half of the people who overdosed required intensive care in hospital.

One 15-year-old girl in Tokyo told NHK she consumed as many as 30 cold pills after becoming upset about problems in a personal relationship.

Kyan Ryoko, a doctor at Saitama Medical University who specializes in substance abuse, warned that people who are most at risk often find it hard to discuss their problems.

She said the outward appearance of stable lives can often be concealing inner turmoil.