Illicit Use Declines But Painkiller Epidemic Continues

The nation’s fastest growing drug problem isn’t the abuse of cocaine or methamphetamine. Heroin is also not the number one concern. And even with a continuously high number of users, national attention is not being paid to the marijuana epidemic. The issue of prescription painkiller abuse is the number one drug problem gaining national attention at this moment.

According to government statistics, prescription painkillers are now misused by over 8 million Americans. What’s worse is that studies have shown there were more overdose deaths from prescription pills last year than from heroin and cocaine combined. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979.

What Are The Most Commonly Abused Prescriptions

There are now three categories of commonly abused prescriptions; many of which are classified as painkillers. They include:

•    Opioids (for pain) – Some common opiods include: Oxycontin, Vicodin, Opana.
•    Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders) – Central Nervous System Depressants include: Valium & Xanax
•    Stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy). Stimulants include: Ritalin, Concerta & Adderall.

Like the other categories, prescription pain relievers can have serious health consequences. Long-term use of opioids or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Opioids can produce drowsiness, constipation and, depending on amount taken, can depress breathing.

Central nervous system depressants have their own side effects and issues and can slow down brain function. If combined with other medications that cause drowsiness or with alcohol, heart rate and respiration can slow down dangerously. Taken repeatedly or in high doses, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, or seizures.

One of the most dangerous ways that addicts consume prescription pain relieves is to crush or dissolve the pill so that they can snort it or inject it to get a faster more potent high. This is how many new users are taking painkillers and it is causing a variety of negative and dangerous side effects and problems.

A few years ago, the prescription drug of choice was Oxycontin; now it’s Opana which is another form of a very strong and addictive painkiller.

What’s Happening With Illicit Drug Abuse

Recently released was a startling but not altogether unexpected finding: America’s drug abuse problem is moving away from illicit drugs like cocaine and moving towards the abuse of prescription painkillers.

According to statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health as reported from a recent article in Business Insider the following has occurred:

•    In the month that the last drug survey was done there were 1.5 million cocaine users. This is down from 2 million users in 2002 and down again from 5.8 million users in the 80’s when cocaine abuse peaked in the US.
•    The drug methamphetamine had a very similar trend of use to cocaine.
•    Heroin abusers in the country saw no real change with just over 200,000 in 2008 and nearly 240,000 users two years later.

[Ref: http://www.businessinsider.com/americas-prescription-drug-abuse-problem-2012-7]

What Narcononeastus.org Is Doing To Solve The Problem

Drug rehabilitation and education organizations like narcononeastus.org have personally seen this trend happening over the last 10 years with the number of admissions for painkillers becoming more common than those for illicit drugs.

One of the primary reasons for this problem is the myth that prescription painkillers are safe and non-addictive because they are so commonly used. The current statistics indicate that these drugs are just as addictive, if not more, than illicit substances.

To receive more information on this issue contact Narconon International today or narcononeastus.org.

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