If you're still wondering whether prescription drug abuse is really a problem, check out these startling facts from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Amazingly, these statistics only include ‘abuse’ - there are millions more people who are taking the drugs as prescribed by their doctor but who are, nevertheless, addicted to or dependent on them and may still need drug detox and drug rehab to get off them.
Here are the DEA statistics, and I quote from the DEA website:
Nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs-more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, and inhalants, combined. That 7 million was just 3.8 million in 2000, an 80 percent increase in just 6 years.
Prescription pain relievers are new drug users’ drug of choice, vs. marijuana or cocaine.
Opioid painkillers now cause more drug overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors admits to abusing powerful prescription painkillers. A shocking 40 percent of teens and an almost equal number of their parents think abusing prescription painkillers is safer than abusing “street" drugs.
Misuse of painkillers represents three-fourths of the overall problem of prescription drug abuse; hydrocodone is the most commonly diverted and abused controlled pharmaceutical in the U. S.
Twenty-five percent of drug-related emergency department visits are associated with abuse of prescription drugs.
Although there aren't any specific statistics on this, there are hundreds of stories about how individuals got started on prescription drugs. You can read them in the news every day - the stories are usually about someone dying or someone whose life has been saved with a drug detox and drug rehab program that got them off prescription drugs. Often they got started when they were prescribed painkillers by their doctor for an injury, accident or surgery.
Others were prescribed tranquilizers or anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax or other benzodiazepines. They, too, got hooked. And they, too, need drug detox and possibly drug rehab to stop taking them.
Perhaps the most dangerous situation of all is with those who are also taking prescription drugs to handle the side effects of other prescription drugs. Sometimes people are taking six drugs, one or two to handle their original complaints and the other four or five to handle the side effects from the initial drugs. They were all prescribed by a doctor, all taken as directed and, consequently, this is not considered to be ‘abuse’. But the drugs are still sending people to the hospital, or the morgue, and they can still ruin their lives unless they go to drug detox and drug rehab.
Prescription drug abuse is a problem, but so is the rampant prescription drug addiction and dependency for those who are taking these drugs as prescribed by their doctor.
If we really want to get a handle on it, we're going to have to get it out of the medicine cabinets, and get those already having a problem into medical drug detox, followed by a drug rehab program if needed.
Gloria MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.
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