Recently, CBS news has begun tracking a growing epidemic in the United States: prescription drug addiction. Although it manifests in many ways, many addictions relating to this type of drug abuse begin as legal prescriptions and quickly spiral out of control, taking over the lives of those affected by this crippling addiction.
The toll prescription drug abuse takes is alarming. According to the CBS article, there are more people killed by prescription drug overdoses in the United States today than heroin and cocaine combined.
Even the number of users is devastatingly high. In a 2011 study, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that over 52 million Americans over 12 years old used prescription drugs for reasons other than medical. At just 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes 75% of its prescription drugs.
Prescription drug addiction can affect anyone. It knows no social classes or gender differences. Often, those addicted to prescription drugs turn to heroin because it achieves a similar high at a lower cost. Today, we’re seeing people from all walks of life — suburban moms to affluent young adults — spiraling into a drug addiction that they cannot control on their own.
One of the reasons people become addicted to prescription drugs is because of the false sense of security they provide. Since a medical doctor told them to take the drug, they think it can’t be that dangerous. There isn’t the social stigma attached to using prescription drugs as there is with other street drugs, such as cocaine.
A leading cause of prescription addiction is the tolerance the body can develop to the drug. Over time, the brain no longer releases the chemicals it needs to feel good on its own. Combine that with needing more to achieve the same effect, and it is easy to understand how someone can develop an addiction to prescription drugs.
The renewed response to prescription drug abuse is spurred on in part by the federal government’s initiative enacted on Tuesday. For the first time, there will be a national strategy implemented to mitigate the abuse of Oxycodone as well as other opiods with similar effects. The end goal is to reduce the misuse of these pills by as much as 15 percent in five years time.
Officials cite education, law enforcement involvement, and pill-tracking databases to help curb this dangerous trend. A specific emphasis is being placed on the state of Florida where 85 percent of oxycodone pills are being prescribed, making it a key location to begin the fight.
The article also cites a phenomenon known as the “OxyContin Express,” in which people from all over the East Coast take buses down to Florida just to get their hands on these highly valuable and highly dangerous pills.
In the coming days, we will continue to be providing more information on prescription drug abuse, as well as resources dedicated to providing rehabilitation resources.
Posted on April 22nd, 2011 in Blog