Celebrity deaths from prescription drugs have been increasingly reported in the news over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, the untimely deaths of mega-stars such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger only highlight the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and drug-related deaths throughout the United States.
According to the Journal of American Medical Association, prescription drug overdose deaths have risen for the 11th straight year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 38,000 drug-related deaths in 2010, with 60% due to legally prescribed medications. Despite efforts by law enforcement and public health officials to curb prescription drug abuse, drug-related deaths continue to rise in the United States.
Prescription drug overdose deaths surpassed traffic accidents as the cause of death in 2009 and this gap has only continued to increase. Opioid drugs, which include Oxycontin and Vicodin, were the most frequently used drugs and accounted for 3 out of 4 overdose deaths caused by medications. Although 17% of these deaths were ruled suicides, accidental overdoses caused the majority of the deaths. Opioid-based painkillers, such as anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs and even anti-inflammatory drugs, were significantly related to the number of deaths caused by pharmaceutical drug overdose.
Prescription drug abuse often begins when legitimate uses of medications are prescribed for pain or injury. However, the person may begin to take more of the medication than required, which builds up his or her tolerance and eventually leads to drug addiction. At this point, the person may be willing to do anything to obtain more drugs. Some methods employed by the desperate may include:
A person’s heart and other bodily systems are affected by the constant flow of these drugs, which can cause damage to brain cells and create respiratory problems. Many prescription narcotics are respiratory depressants and when taken in conjunction with other depressants can have negative consequences, possibly even death.
Dr. Thomas, the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “the first step is recognizing that a loved one might need help.” Signs requiring concern from family members can be seen in:
Signs of a co-worker who may be addicted to abusing drugs include:
If you or someone you love may be struggling with prescription drugs, seek help at an addiction treatment facility. For a free and confidential consultation, contact a recovery expert at Cornerstone Recovery Center by calling toll free 888-711-0354 or click here.
There has been pressure on all levels of government to decrease the use of prescription painkillers. The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a proposal to limit daily doses of painkillers and the number of days for dosages. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the current Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (also known as the “Drug Czar”), has also called for aggressive monitoring by state and local boards.
Additional steps that have been taken by the Federal Government:
Steps taken by the State Governments:
The counselors at Cornerstone Recovery Center can answer any questions or concerns about a loved one who is or may be struggling with prescription drug abuse. Call 888-711-0354 or set up an appointment online with an addiction treatment counselor as soon as possible and take the first step to help your loved one recover.