The number of patients admitted to hospital for overdosing on painkillers has doubled in a decade, NHS figures show.
Doctors say it is a 'very worrying' consequence of the pills being prescribed too readily.
There were 10,999 admissions in 2016/17 for poisoning by opioid painkillers and other narcotics, which include codeine, morphine and fentanyl.
This is up from 5,085 in 2006/7, although slightly down on 2015/16, when there were 11,660 admissions, the data from NHS Digital shows.
Dr Jane Quinlan, a consultant in anaesthesia and pain management at Oxford University Hospitals, said the ten-year rise was 'very worrying'.
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But she pointed out that it was not clear whether people had overdosed by accident or after becoming addicted to the drugs.
'These figures confirm fears that the increase in opioid prescribing and availability has broader consequences,' she said.
'I have also seen patients taking more opioids than they should because they were desperate to treat their pain, even though we know they are unlikely to be effective; some who have taken them as a deliberate suicide attempt – sometimes because of the pain – and some who have become acutely hypersensitive to their normal opioid doses as a result of a chest infection or other infection.'
A spokesman for NHS Digital pointed out that the figures were not directly comparable as from 2012 the data changed slightly to include poisoning from the drug tramadol.
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