Sovereign Health of California has been at the forefront of treating prescription drug addiction. Our four California facilities – San Clemente, Los Angeles, Palm Desert and Rancho San Diego (adolescent program) – have developed prescription drug abuse treatment programs that tackle the physical addiction and the psychological factors fueling it.
The Prescription Drug Epidemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have described prescription drug addiction as an epidemic. Prescription drug abuse involves nearly every demographic. Young people often find their way to prescription drugs by looting the medicine cabinet. The elderly, who take an average of four or more prescription drugs, often become addicted to their own medication. A senior who is addicted to opioids may display the classic symptoms of prescription drug addiction, but friends and family may attribute these to growing old.
Prescription drug use has also caused a surge in heroin addiction and overdoses. As the price for prescription drugs soars, destitute addicts often resort to heroin for a cheaper alternative.
The Toll Of Drug Overdoses
In 2013, 35,369 people died in automobile crashes, while 33,636 died from guns. The same year, 47,471 people died from drug overdoses, more than half involving prescription drugs. The reasons for this surge in prescription drug abuse and ODs are complex but not unfathomable. In short:
- The U.S. is the number one consumer of opioids (80 percent). In 2012, American physicians wrote over 280 million opioid prescriptions for a population of 312.8 million people.
- Lack of oversight. Every state except for Missouri has a prescription drug monitoring program. These are statewide databases that allow prescribers, pharmacists, even law enforcement to review a patient’s prescription drug history. By monitoring this activity, prescribers can determine if a patient is doctor shopping for opioid prescriptions. But these databases are not connected; there is no national monitoring program.
- Patients still believe that a prescription drug must be inherently safe. At first blush, very few people will accept as fact that OxyContin is as addictive as heroin.