Archive for category Prescription Drug Abuse
A new study published in the Journal of Perinatology discovered an alarming increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) from 2009 to 2012. Cases of infants born with NAS in the U.S. were roughly 3.4 of 1,000 births in 2009, but increased twofold to 5.8 for every thousand deliveries in 2012.
Study lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick, who works at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said in a news report that the primary reason behind this trend is the increase in prescription drug abuse. “The rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome mirrors the rise we have seen in opioid pain reliever use across the nation. Our study finds that communities hardest hit by opioid use and their complications, like overdose death, have the highest rates of the NAS,” Patrick said. Meanwhile, senior study author Dr. William Cooper emphasized the impact of NAS in today’s society. “The findings of this study demonstrate that neonatal abstinence syndrome is a growing public health problem in the United States and places a tremendous burden on babies, their families, and the communities in which they live,” Cooper stated.
The country’s east south central section, composed of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, registered the highest rate of NAS at 16.2 births per thousand.
This study further confirms the importance of preventive intervention to address NAS, particularly by focusing on programs against opioid abuse. “Too often in our health system we react to problems instead of forging public health solutions. Imagine if we were able to use the dollars spent to treat NAS on improving public health systems aimed at preventing opioid misuse and improving access to drug treatment for mothers,” Patrick added.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper addressed students at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ Career Center to discuss prescription drug abuse and relaunch his awareness campaign on the issue. Roughly 35 students listened to the Attorney General during digital media and health science classes. Cooper visited the career center and Kennedy High School together with Judy Billings, who works with the Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit of the State Bureau of Investigation.
Cooper’s Stop Rx Abuse video campaign was a huge success in the state, and that’s why on its fourth year of running the campaign, he is opening up the contest to interested applicants as early as 12 years old. The competition invites high school and middle school students to submit PSA videos 30 seconds long to fight prescription drug abuse. Video entries must be uploaded to YouTube before the April 15 cutoff. Contestants who are awarded the best videos will receive any of the following: Apple iPad, iPod Touch, or Amazon gift cards.
Cooper believes that teenagers need to be aware of the dangers of this lingering drug issue. ““For most teens, finding prescription drugs to abuse is as simple as opening up the medicine cabinet… When used incorrectly of mixed with alcohol or other drugs, just one pill can kill and it’s critical that young people help us get this message out to their friends and classmates,” Cooper said in a news release.
As authorities zero in on prescription drug abuse and its effects on society, drug agencies are fearing that the situation — if left untreated or intervened — may lead to worse effects.
The San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse issued a statement via a news item, saying that unwarranted use of prescription drugs may eventually lead to dependence on other illicit substances such as heroin. “We see a lot of pain medications that are being abused, and that becomes a gateway drug for heroin abuse,” according to Abigail Moore of the San Antonio drug council.
What’s scary is the fact that many teenagers believe that prescription drugs are not dangerous compared to other types of drugs, which could probably explain why more adolescents are hooked on opioid medication. “Whether it’s adolescents abusing or taking prescription from their parents, or adults a using prescriptions that are prescribed to them or other family members, this is on the rise,” Moore said.
To make things worse, dependence on painkillers may lead to tolerance. “We’ve taken assessments where people have admitted to taking 30-40 pills day,” Moore expressed. In addition, heroin continues to be a growing business as proven by the rise in arrests due to heroin use by up to four times since 2008.
The latest report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals both good and bad news in terms of substance use by teenagers.
According to the annual teen tracking report by the government agency, teenage use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin has dropped this year. “Probably that relates to very aggressive campaigns for prevention,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow in a news release.
In addition, the rate of teenage smoking using traditional cigarettes has also dropped significantly, as well as the rate of teenage binge drinking. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about e-cigarette use. What’s troubling for the agency is that the dangers of e-cigarettes have not yet been exposed completely. “One of the arguments has been that when you’re vaping nicotine you are not inhaling all the combustion products from tobacco leaves that you get from a regular cigarette… The problem has to do with the fact that if these e-cigarettes are improperly manufactured, then they can deliver toxins from leakage from paint or other materials that are used in their production,” Volkow said.
Illicit use of Adderall and other similar prescription stimulant drugs is also on the rise, according to the NIDA study. “The problem of using stimulant medication to study for tests is that stimulant drugs are addictive and actually they can be highly addictive,” the NIDA director added.
It’s unfortunate to have a young person die from drug overdose before people listen to the warnings, but an anti-substance abuse advocate is using this recent incident to highlight the dangers of drug abuse.
Carolyn Anderson, who serves as executive director of the Gulf Coast Substance Abuse Task Force in Mississippi, has long urged the general population to be aware of the present situation on substance abuse. “Teens, parents, teachers and anyone in the community, you need to step up. Make them feel special. Make them feel love. Make them feel life is worth living, and push them towards their potential,” Anderson said in a news release, referring to teenage deaths associated with drug overdose.
The latest incident involved a teenage boy, age 13, who was declared dead due to overdose on opioids and benzodiazepine. “This is a horrible thing to think. Someone at 13 is gone because of an overdose,” said Anderson.
The agency director is a strong advocate of early intervention by people whom the teens look up to. “I want teens that are upset, depressed or being bullied. I want them to find an adult they can confide in, whether it’s a coach, teacher, Sunday school teacher… Talk to someone. Don’t experiment,” Anderson expressed. She also urges parents to use locked medicine boxes to prevent access by young kids. “Make sure it’s put away so they don’t find them,” she stated further.
Prescription drug abuse has become a hot topic as of late, with a string of fatalities and hospital admissions caused by this alarming issue. Worse, some medical professionals are not aware that they are issuing prescriptions for excessively strong medications.
According to ABC Australia, doctors in the country were able to issue more than 100,000 prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs to children in 2013. Queensland, one of the many states in Australia, pegged the highest rate in anti-psychotic drug prescriptions at 645 per 100,000 people. NSW and Victoria followed suit.
While some child cases were under the supervision of consenting parents, other children given overprescribed medicines were in foster homes. Majority of the anti-psychotic drugs were designed to treat psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but a growing trend is turning to these medicines to address autism and aggression in kids.
According to the news report, medical professionals are not united in the issue on prescribing anti-psychotic medication in children. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists allow this kind of medicine to be prescribed to kids for legitimate reasons, with psychosis being one of them. “Sometimes we do see kids who have aggressive and behaviour problems who’ve had a range of many other treatments and sometimes they do benefit from anti-psychotic treatment,” said Dr. Nick Kowalenko, college chair for child and adolescent psychiatry. However, Kowalenko emphasized that the drugs are not absolute substitutes to a “comprehensive treatment approach”.
Risperidone is the medicine most often prescribed by doctors to treat psychosis in Australia, with over 28,000 prescriptions issued in 2013 alone.
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