The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) understands that drug abuse is a disease. It knows that this is a problem that if we do not get a handle on could damage our society.
According to the CDC, prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing problem in the U.S. with more than 15,500 deaths occurring annually as a result of a fatal overdose. It is hard to believe that prescription drugs cause more accidental deaths in this country than car accidents.
What exactly is prescription drug abuse? For our purposes we will define it as the intentional use of a medication in a way that wasn’t prescribed for the feeling it creates.
In 2007, an estimated 27,000 Americans died from unintentional drug overdose, and in 2009 that number jumped to nearly 38,000.
One explanation for the increase in prescription drug abuse is that some, particularly teens believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a pharmacist.
Another excuse is the use of pain medications can start off as legitimate, like the need to alleviate pain after surgery, but the euphoric feeling the drugs give causes them to crave more of it until it turns into an addiction.
Where Do We Get Our Meds?
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that more than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs got them from family or friends, and five percent bought the drugs online. Internet pill mills are a growing problem.
Drug dealers – and their tourists, who travel from state to state – often get the drugs by doctor shopping or robbing pharmacists. In the past five years drug store robbery increased 81 percent.
So what has the government done in regard to this issue?
I agree with President Barack Obama when he states that education is the number one vaccine to attack the problem. Drug classes both in class and online can provide education about appropriate and safe use, proper storage, and disposal of prescription drugs.
We also need prescription drug monitoring programs in every state to combat doctor shopping. Combine this with proper medication disposal programs and law enforcement and we have a plan of attack.