Prescription Drug Abuse
The issue on prescription drug abuse may be common to young adults and professionals, but the risk in abuse by seniors are also high due to multiple medication providers.
A new report released via HealthDay reveals that 30 percent of the total number of patients prescribed with pain medication are able to procure the said medicines from multiple sources. This issue could have probably contributed to the steady rise in prescription drug use — and abuse — for the past 20 years.
Harvard Medical School assistant professor Dr. Anupam Jena headed a team of researchers who looked into this particular issue. Their study showed that many patients are able to acquire prescriptions from more than one physician. “As physicians, we tell patients not to drive when they take opioids, but we also need to tell them that it can be dangerous to receive these medications from more than one provider,” Dr. Jena said.
The study involved an investigation into 1.8 million seniors who received at least one drug prescription in 2010 under the Medicare prescription program. The researchers initially predicted a figure of not more than 10 percent, so they were surprised with the number.
Through the study, Dr. Jena hopes that doctors will be conscientious enough to tell their patients about the risk of getting multiple prescriptions.
Members of the American College of Physicians (ACP) jointly released a new policy that aims to control and fight against the issue on prescription drug abuse.
The use of painkillers beyond the prescribed purpose has become a national trend that threatens to endanger the lives of U.S. citizens. As one of the leading medical professional groups in the country, ACP hopes that the new policy statement encourages all physicians to take action against this dangerous habit.
The statement was released last December 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal. “The goal of this paper is to provide physicians and policymakers with a set of recommendations to address the significant human and financial costs related to prescription drug abuse,” according to the statement as reported in CBS News.
The policy statement delineates several clauses aimed to curb painkiller abuse. These include a recommendation to establish a monitoring program for prescription drug users all around the country, improvement in public awareness and education about the killer habit, and clear-cut instructions for patients on using the pain medication.
ACP president Dr. Molly Cooke clarified the public notion that painkillers remove 100% of the pain the a patient feels. “If that’s what the patient’s mindset is he’s likely going to come back and say, I wasn’t getting enough relief and I doubled the prescription,” Cooke added.
A recent study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors revealed that teenagers who participate in sports are less likely to engage in the use of most illicit drugs.
While that finding is somewhat expected judging by the benefits that the youth get through sports, proponents of the study surprisingly discovered that this same demographic are more prone to alcohol abuse. Research team member John Cairney of McMaster University’s Offord Centre for Child Studies shared through Reuters the surprising results. “When we began our own review, we were shocked not only to find many new studies, but also ones that had been missed in previous reviews,” Cairney said.
The researchers from Canada reviewed previous studies published between 1982 and 2012, and dealt with monitoring people’s behaviors as a result of sports activities. It was through the comprehensive review that the benefit of sports activities in preventing drug abuse can be confirmed.
“We have enough data to show that sport participation could play an important role in substance use prevention. We need to understand what aspects of sport participation are most beneficial and design rigorous trials to see if sport interventions really can reduce or prevent drug use in youth,” Cairney added.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for marijuana and alcohol use, which young athletes were more susceptible to fall into. Also, the probability of prescription drug abuse — particularly in the use of painkillers and opiod medication — is higher for young people engaged in sports because these drugs are easier to get for them.
If you think that drug poisoning is deadly, wait until you see what the government has discovered.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that indicates a threefold increase in the number of drug-related deaths since thirty years ago. The three hundred percent jump includes deaths caused by use of illicit drugs and prescription medicine, but the study did not reflect how much of the statistic came from these particular drugs.
The research team led by study author Lauren Rossen attribute most of the cases of poisoning fatalities to drugs, both legal and illegal. “Mapping death rates associated with drug poisoning at the county level may help elucidate geographic patterns, highlight areas where drug-related poisoning deaths are higher than expected, and inform policies and programs designed to address the increase in drug-poisoning mortality and morbidity,” Rossen said in a news release.
On a more alarming note, the CDC reports that in the most recent decade, the surge in drug poisoning deaths was insanely high. From a drug poisoning death rate of 3 percent in 1999, the figure shot up to 54 percent in 2009. This confirms another finding that revealed a double-figure increase in prescription drug abuse for the past five years. This figure translates to roughly 12 million people admitting to ingestion of prescription drugs outside of their intended purpose.
High death rates were recorded in counties in Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico.
Since 2010, the National Take Back Initiative has educated Americans about the dangers of leaving excess prescribed drugs inside their homes, and how a correct disposal method can become the first step to preventing prescription drug abuse. The most recent campaign was conducted last October 26, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Several counties and states have put their full support to this government activity:
- In Baltimore, the entire police force has coordinated with the DEA to push the event to the limelight, by offering their stations as drop off locations for those who want to throw away their unused medication. Lt. Michael Brothers of the Anne Arundel County Police shared in a news release that they will not interrogate locals who are planning to dispose of their medicine at the police stations. “We will not ask any questions. You can place them in the box and you can leave. No questions asked,” said Lt. Brothers.
- Government personnel and sheriff’s deputies at Harford County were assisted by DEA in transforming the county office parking lot into a drop off site. Doug Ellington of the DEA expressed his sentiments about the issue. “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this county… Non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as a drug of abuse,” Ellington said in a news item.
- The city of Huntington in West Virginia was able to amass about 30 pounds of prescription drugs across three Take Back stations. Cpl. Steve Vincent of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department was surprised with the turnout. “We’ve been going for about an hour-and-a-half and we’ve already got two boxes filled up,” Vincent said.
Indiana officials are stepping up their campaign against prescription drug abuse with the launch of a new website and a series of public service announcements.
www.in.gov/bitterpill/ is a joint effort between Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force. Its goal is to educate Hoosiers about the dangers of Rx medicine abuse, how to properly store and dispose prescription medicines, how to talk to kids about prescription drug abuse, and more.
Data provided by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) showed more than 700 residents of Indiana died from accidental drug overdoses in 2011. The new website hopes to reduce this number and steer kids away from potential addiction.
“Statistics show that abuse and misuse among all age groups is a serious problem in Indiana and that’s a bitter pill for our state to swallow,” Zoeller said in a news release. “Whether you are seeking ideas on how to talk to your teenager about whether they are abusing prescription drugs, searching for help for yourself or a loved one or just want to know how to properly dispose of your unwanted medications, this new website serves as a one-stop shop. I believe consumers need to be armed with information and the right resources so we can try to put an end to this epidemic.”
Zoeller mentioned the top five features of www.BitterPill.IN.gov, namely: Knowing the dangers, Dealing with addiction, Proper prescription disposal, Clinical resources, and Reporting illegal activities.
State Rep. Steve Davisson (R-Salem) agreed that the new website is a great resource in fighting the epidemic that “threatens the health of our state.”
The new website was unveiled in conjunction with the launching of a series of online, print, television and radio service announcements which will officially air on September 2.