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Monday, June 21, 2010

Prescription Drug Use On The Rise

Andrew and Ted Koppel

Prescription drugs are in the news more these days, one story after another involving pharmaceuticals and death. The pairing of the two is no coincidence considering that prescription medications are cleaner forms of street drugs, equally or more potent than their dirty street "cousins" heroin and meth. Oxycontin is clean heroin and Adderall is clean meth, benzodiazapams like Valium and Xanax could be called dehydrated alcohol; all of these drugs dosed improperly could result in death. The most recent prescription drug related death that is being discussed is the death of the son of ABC's Ted Koppel, who accidentally overdosed on a slew of drugs.

Andrew Koppel had consumed a number of different chemicals leading up to his death, the medical examiner found cocaine, diazepam, heroin, Levamisole (a drug used to cut other drugs), and alcohol in Koppel's system - it was a lethal combination. Koppel's death is just one more example of the dangers of drugs and alcohol and his name can added to the long list of prescription drug related deaths this year. There were many deaths in the last 365 days involving prescription drugs: Michael Jackson, Corey Haim, Casey Johnson, and Brittany Murphy... Clearly there is a prescription drug epidemic occurring in this country and it needs to be addressed.

A new study was just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that had some pretty startling findings worth noting. There are an estimated 980,000 people in America who suffer from prescription opiate addiction; nearly a million people in the United States are hooked on some type of opiate derivative. On top of that, emergency room trips tied to non-medical use of prescription opiates has more than doubled. "The prescription painkillers being abused include oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone. And in six states—Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Vermont—accidental drug deaths due to use of anxiety medications increased 64 percent between 2004 and 2007", according to the Take Away.

These findings should not be too surprising considering that pharmaceutical addiction probably touches every household in America. No one seems to know how to curb the spreading epidemic? Treatment only addresses the problem after it has arrived, but, a preemptive strike is imperative if we are going to see those numbers drop.

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