Posts Tagged Medical Center
The Quiet Epidemic: prescription drug abuse destroys millions of lives
The Baltimore Sun
There isn’t much attention paid to prescription drug abuse, except perhaps when a Hollywood star dies from an overdose. However, it is estimated that nearly one in five Americans has used prescription drugs for nonmedicinal reasons, and 15 percent may be abusing prescription drugs. This silent epidemic has become the leading cause of addiction.
This week, the Maryland Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the University of Maryland Medical Center sponsored the annual Tuerk Conference, a gathering of 1,200 health professionals working in the field of addictions to focus on treatment and prevention of prescription drug abuse. Confronting and debunking the common myth that prescription drugs are less deadly and less addictive was one of the items on the agenda.
The dangers of prescription drug abuse are growing at an exponential rate. Between 1992 and 2002, the number of prescriptions written increased by 61 percent, but the number of prescriptions written for opiates increased by almost 400 percent. Opiates reflect three-quarters of all prescription drugs abused. Actor Heath Ledger had Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam) in his bloodstream when he died. All are legal opiates.
According to a report this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers jumped 65 percent from 1999 to 2006. One-third of new addicts report that their first drug experience was with prescription drugs.