Prescription Drug Abuse Is a National Problem

When the use of any drug triples in the course of only 5 years, there is no other word to call it other than an epidemic—and American society is facing one right now. Between 1999 and 2013 – a total period of 15 years – the death rate caused by drug overdose more than doubled in the United States.

Prescription Drug Abuse Is a National Problem

A disproportionately high number of these fatalities are due to the use of opiates – the class of painkiller that includes Demerol, Vicodin, and OxyContin among prescription medications (and heroin among street drugs). Some additional facts about the epidemic include:

In the US, overdoses of prescription medicine kill 120 people a day.

  • The Trust for America’s Health reports that deaths influenced by prescription drug misuse now outnumber those fromheroin and cocaine combined.
  • In 29 states, more people die from drug overdosesthan car wrecks.
  • Some reports estimate that prescription drug abuse costs over $53 billion a year in America due to criminal proceedings, lost productivity, and medical expenses.
  • In 2013, the CDC’s Prevention Status Report found that the unauthorized use of opioid medicine costs insurance companies $5 billion annually.
  • In 2010, the admission rate for opioid addiction treatment was 7 times greater than it was in 1999.

Prescription Drug Abuse Is an Epidemic in California Too

One of the biggest states in the country, California also has one of the biggest problems with prescription drug abuse. A 2012  LA Times investigative article found that in four Southern California counties, more than half of the accidental fatalities from prescription drug overdoses were due to a legitimate doctor’s prescription. This implies that the problem lies much deeper than simple misuse. The following are some stats on prescription drug abuse in California:

  • In L.A. County, prescription drug abuse is now the #1 reason for emergency room visits.
  • In 2012, The San Diego Substance Abuse Monitoring Program indicated that 44% of juvenile arrestees reported illegal use of prescription drugs, up from 37% in 2011.
  • According to the Department of Public Health, between 2000-2009, there were 8265 drug-related deaths in L.A. County. 61% were caused by over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs.
  • According to the CDC, only 15% of prescriptions used by “problem abusers” are obtained illegally.
  • An inspection of coroner records over a 5-year period in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Ventura counties uncovered the scary fact that 47% of those deaths involving prescription medication, the drug itself was the sole cause of death.

The Most Popular Prescription Drugs to be Abused are:

  • Opioids – typically prescribed for severe or chronic pain, opiates are abused to produce an extreme sense of well-being and euphoria
  • Hydrocodone – Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet
  • Oxycodone – Pecodan, Percocet
  • Codeine – many cough and cold medicines
  • Fentanyl – analgesic patches
  • Demerol – also known as Isonipecaine and Pethidine
  • Hydromorphone – Dilaudid
  • Morphine
  • Depressants – tranquilizers prescribed to treat sleep disorders and anxiety, depressants numb an abuser to anxiety or stress
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Stimulants – usually prescribed to treat ADHD, stimulants will make the abuser feel more alert, energetic, and upbeat.
  • Adderall    
  • Concerta  
  • Ritalin

People can and do recover from prescription drug abuse every day. Give us a call and let us join you on your path to wellness.