Almost daily, the media reports new statistics regarding prescription painkiller abuse in America. Many times this involves teens and young adults who falsely believe that these pills are “safe” because they are found in a medicine cabinet or prescribed by a medical professional.

These alarming new statistics have led to nationwide meetings among many organizations and groups that are dedicated to devising creative methods of combating this growing American epidemic. For example, in New Hampshire a panel of experts, including N.H. Assistant Attorney General Philip Bradley, is considering, “the installation of prescription drug drop boxes at local police stations as a strategy to combat the increased abuse of prescription drugs such as methadone and Oxycodone.” The panel also said, “prescription drug use has increased exponentially the last 20 years and claimed they are easier for some teenagers to get their hands on than beer,” writes Alexis Macarchuk, reporter.

In addition, Florida Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros, M.D. stated, “Tragically, prescription-drug overdose deaths in Florida increased by 77 percent from 2003 to 2008. Abuse of prescription drugs affects not just the users, but also their family, friends, co-workers and others.” As a result, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Governor’s Office of Drug Control, among other state partners, are actively implementing the 2009 legislation creating a prescription drug monitoring program.

The most important factor in preventing the misuse of prescription painkillers is education. Communicating to teenagers and young adults the dangers associated with the abuse of these powerful opiates is an integral and necessary part of reducing their widespread misuse.

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