MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A new report shows drug-related deaths are steadily increasing in Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater epidemiologist David Nordstrom took a look at nearly 5,000 deaths that were certified as drug-related between 1999 and 2008. Most were accidental overdoses or suicides and the majority involved male victims with an average age of about 43.

Nordstrom found a shift of legal prescription drug-related deaths surpassing those involving illegal narcotics. He says deaths from the synthetic drug methadone, which is used to treat heroin addiction skyrocketed from 10 in 1999 to 118 in 2008.

Nordstrom tells Wisconsin Public Radio News that a prescription drug monitoring program, which keeps people from getting pain pills from multiple pharmacies could help stem the rise in opioid abuse.