America’s Favorite Drugs
By: Anthony Galante
“The epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse started in the 1990s,” said Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, lead author of the study, published in the journal Pain in 2013, and vice chairman for research and a professor of neuropharmacology in psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Users think of these drugs as legal and safe compared to street drugs like heroin.”
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We are sharing this information with you to keep you informed, improve your health and well-being and help you understand critical health care information and how it impacts your health and your wallet. So what are the implications?
Painkiller abuse is using a prescription painkiller outside of its intended purpose. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, about 9 percent of Americans over age 12 have abused a painkiller drug. “Exact statistics are hard to know, but about 6 to 10 percent of the population probably abuse opiate painkillers,” said Cicero. The recent study surveyed 3,520 patients in 160 addiction treatment facilities. Two opiates, hydrocodone and oxycodone, accounted for 75 percent of opiate addiction.
Although hydrocodone is a more commonly abused painkiller, oxycodone is the more preferred painkiller. That’s because oxycodone comes in a pure pill form, whereas hydrocodone is combined with other medications, usually acetaminophen (Tylenol). Users say they get a better high without the other drug.
These are not poor, inner-city drug users,” Cicero said. “They tend to be white, young, and affluent. Fifty-four percent of the users in our survey were female.”
Doctor shopping (going to multiple doctors) is a popular way to get painkillers, especially hydrocodone. Studies show that most people who do not abuse painkillers do not use up all of their prescription. Pills are commonly left in medicine cabinets, where they can be stolen, often by a friend or family member. In many cases, users get pills freely from a friend or relative. These drugs also show up commonly on the street, where they can be bought from a drug dealer,” Cicero said.
If that is not bad enough, another danger is moving from prescription painkillers to heroin. Painkiller pills are expensive,” he said. “For a person taking lots of pills, heroin is cheaper. We are seeing more and more pill users moving to heroin.”
Overdose deaths in the United States have tripled since 1990. Almost 75 percent of overdoses are due to prescription painkillers, and almost all start out as legal prescriptions. Painkiller abuse has been called “white collar addiction” because even doctors don’t always recognize the dangers.
As I have discussed preciously, this is a huge problem, guarantee you know someone that is abusing painkillers, this is everywhere, as high as 1 in 10 people.
What can you do?
Medication is designed to be used for a brief period of time until the body can heal. If medication is needed, seek professional treatment to alleviate the painful condition that required medication.
Avoid ordering medications online.
Properly dispose of unused medication, don’t leave them in your medicine cabinet where friends, relatives and children can get into them.
Be aware. This is a problem that affects millions of people, you know someone right now that is abusing prescription medication, confronting an addict can be challenging and should be done with professional help.
This is a problem that affects millions of people, you know someone right now that is abusing prescription medication, confronting an addict can be challenging and should be done with professional help.
Remember health is a journey and not a destination. What you do in the practice of health care will go miles and pay dividends over time.
If you still feel that you are struggling in creating a healthy living plan, you will be thrilled to know that Dr. Galante has powerful programs that will teach you the specific steps that will help you to become and stay healthier.
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