Posted on 09-17-2013
Prescription Drug Abuse is on the Rise
Good Morning! An article with the title above by Karen Dandurant appeared on the Seacoastonline.com website on August 18, 2013. The article reported on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. Similar articles appeared in other news outlets both in the US and the United Kingdom including a September 8, 2013, article in the Mail Online with the headline, "A nation of prescription drug addicts: More Britons die from abusing painkillers and tranquillizers than heroin and cocaine."
In the US in 2008, 14,800 people died from prescription drug overdoses which are more than the combined total for drug overdose deaths due to heroin and cocaine according to the CDC. The death rate from prescription drug overdose has tripled since 1990, with 75 percent of the deaths attributed to painkiller misuse. A survey by the CDC reported that 12 million people use painkillers to get high and not for medicinal purposes.
In spite of this high rate of death from prescription drug use, 75 percent of all medical visits will include drug therapy, with 48.5 percent of all patients using one prescription drug in the past month, 21.7 percent using three or more drugs, and 10.6 percent of patients using five or more prescription drugs.
Seacoastonline reports that some people sell their prescriptions and will visit several different doctors to obtain more prescription drugs. Opiates like oxycodone, codeine, and methadone are the most abused but benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and other central nervous system depressants, and central nervous system stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are also highly misused.
The misuse of prescription drugs can be attributed to the difficulty of measuring pain and monitoring the use of prescription drugs for chronic conditions.
"Pain is very subjective," said Sergio Zullich, pharmacy clinical manager at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in the Seacoastonline article. "The patient tells the doctor there is pain and he will prescribe a small amount. Some people will take a few doses until their pain subsides. Others will go back for more, reporting there is still pain or the medication is not adequately addressing their pain."
The CDC recommends that states implement the use of prescription drug monitoring programs using state-run databases to track and monitor prescription drug use. The CDC also recommends that states implement patient record reviews of state-run programs like Medicaid, health care provider guidelines and accountability, legislation to prevent prescription drug abuse, and better access to substance abuse treatment programs for people as a multi-leveled intervention policy to prevent future prescription drug overdoses.
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Have a blessed day!
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