Many of us have no doubt heard about rampant Cocaine abuse that has affected millions, and the “AIDS Epidemic” that still generates fear the world over. However, a new epidemic and terrible epidemic has spread across the US: the Prescription Painkiller Epidemic.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)have quickly become the most misused drug in the U.S. in recent years. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also reported that the “misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the Nation’s most prevalent illicit drug problem and is a public health concern, with approximately 22 million persons initiating non-medical pain reliever use since 2002.”
In the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2010 through 2011, the survey demonstrated that, while rates of use have either decreased or stayed the same throughout the United States, nearly 5% of the population still misuses prescription drugs.
These numbers are alarming. Prescription medication overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990 and have becoming a leading cause of preventable death trailing closely behind deaths from car accidents. Though the NSDUH study saw the rate of prescription drug misuse decline, or staying level, we cannot sit idly by with so many people adversely affected and must ensure that we do all we can to further stem the tide. What makes this epidemic even more pressing is that Prescription drug misuse is clearly a form of preventable death.
While these numbers are striking, the good news is that they are reversible. By their very nature, prescription medications are meant to be, and often are, monitored by medical professionals. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists can all be involved in medication management even when an individual is taking a prescription outside of a medical environment. However, more care and training are still needed in the monitoring process.
Access Comes From Friends And Family
Research has shown that most people obtain the drugs they misuse through friends or relatives for free. Though there is no realistic way that we, as mental and medical health professionals, can monitor these transfers, we can strive to do a better job of educating our patients about the dangers of prescription drug misuse.
While many people undoubtedly give drugs to friends or relatives out of a sense of helping others out fiscally, they may be completely unaware of the dangers that these drugs possess for others. Certainly better educating ourselves and our patients would help contribute to safer uses of prescription drugs.
Even though the facts of prescription drug use may seem daunting and the situation dire, we should use these sobering numbers as means to better prepare ourselves and our patients for prescription drug use. With this in mind we at Sovereign Health believe that we can all make the world of medicine a safer place for all those who need it.
For more information examine this infographic highlighting prescription drug problem.
Blog Post By: Jared Friedman