By Sheila Guilloton –Examiner.com July 28
Death due to the growing prescription drug abuse is in the headlines now because of the death of Michael Jackson. The media also harkens back to the death of Elvis Presley and other celebrities who have died from drug overdoses.
But the abuse of prescription drugs is different. Unlike the addiction to heroin and cocaine, which may be declining, abuse of prescription drugs is on the increase. Perhaps the most alarming fact is who is getting addicted.
Data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that almost 3 million adolescents and about 7 million young adults from ages 18 to 25 had used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes at least once in their lives. That number has been steadily increasing. Abuse is most prominent for pain relievers.
Prescription drug abuse and prescription drug addiction are not new. However, several factors have made it more widespread. While doctors ultimately have to sign off on three refills, doing so can become routine and thus the prescription drug abuse is facilitated. Doctors will often confirm the refill of a prescription with just a phone call.
Frances M. Harding, Director at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, said recently that very few people actually finish their medications as instructed, Quite innocently they leave dangerous pills in the home. This provides easy access for children and visitors to your home. A quick trip to your bathroom and a look in your medicine cabinet can score left over a bottle of OxyContin. One pill is said to have a current street value of $30.
But another and more dangerous avenue exists today: the INTERNET. One has merely to go online and search for an overseas pharmacy, pay with a credit card and within a few days your order is delivered.
Opioids which are prescribed for pain relief are among the most common drugs that lead to prescription drug abuse. These include OxyContin, Vicodin, and Darvon. In fact, according to Dr. Michael Lowenstein, Co-Director of the Waismann Institute in Los Angeles, Vicodin has the second highest abuse rate of any current drug.