Archive for category Prescription Drug Abuse
Drug abuse remains one of the country’s worst social and health issues, and this new report from a non-profit health organization confirms the already worsening scenario.
According to Trust for America’s Health, deaths linked to drug overdose rose to more than twice in young Americans over more than a decade. From 3.1 deaths per 100,000 individuals aged 12 to 25 in 1999-2001, the figure has since ballooned to 7.3 in 2011-2013. More than half of the reason was due to prescription drug abuse, while a portion was due to the use of heroin.
Trust for America’s Health executive director Jeffrey Levi shared in a news report more about the increase in the number of drug overdose deaths. “These twin epidemics have contributed to the recent tragic rise in overdose deaths,” he said.
Overdose rates vary by state, based on the report’s findings. For instance, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Montana, and Wyoming registered more than fourfold increase in drug overdose rates. Meanwhile, 12 states have more than tripled their original numbers, and 18 states registered more than twice the previous death toll.
In a more startling discovery, people aged 19 to 25 have the highest risk of fatality due to drug overdose, at 12.7 deaths per 100,000. In contrast, teenagers between 12 to 18 years old registered only 1.6 fatalities per 100,000. “We have a huge opportunity in kids when they are in school, in their early teen years, so that when they reach this older age they will be less likely to be using,” Levi added.
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry discovered that adolescents are receiving an increasing amount of antipsychotic medication in recent years.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Mark Olfson of New York’s Columbia University reviewed prescription data from U.S. retail pharmacies to check the trend in antipsychotic prescriptions over the years. While children 12 years old and below were issued fewer drugs for psychosis from 2006 to 2010, antipsychotic prescriptions for teenagers from 13 to 18 years of age rose by 1.19 percent. Meanwhile, people aged 19 to 24 were prescribed 0.84 percent more than in previous years. “In older teenagers and young adults, a developmental period of high risk for the onset of psychotic disorders, antipsychotic use increased between 2006 and 2010,” the researchers said in a news release.
The study proponents conclude that the differences in data for each age group may have something to do with the need to address their respective concerns. “Age and sex antipsychotic use patterns suggest that much of the antipsychotic treatment of children and younger adolescents targets age-limited behavioral problems,” the team added.
Furthermore, the research team believes that prescribing antipsychotic drugs should involve more responsibility. “Clinical policy makers have opportunities to promote improved quality and safety of antipsychotic medication use in young people through expanded use of quality measures, physician education, telephone- and Internet-based child and adolescent psychiatry consultation models and improved access to alternative, evidence-based psychosocial treatments.”
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.