Ever since physicians have been able to prescribe narcotic painkillers, some Americans have taken more than is safe and have found themselves physically and emotionally addicted to these drugs.
Americans have a history to abuse opiate painkillers when they have not been legally regulated. This problem led to the enactment of the Harrison Narcotic Act, which required that a licensed healthcare provider provide a prescription for opiate medications sold to the public.
This act fell short of curbing opiate abuse since pharmacists were still selling “over-the-counter” remedies for everything from cough syrups to tonics that helped the “woman of the house” get through her busy day.
It wasn’t until our society felt the pressure from the abolitionist movement in the 1920s and 30s that stronger restrictions were placed on the public’s access to the addictive drugs. This social pressure fell short of curtailing American’s ability to find means to legally procure these narcotics leading to more evidence that stronger regulations were needed to help control the widespread abuse and addiction to opiate medications.
At the pressure of prohibitionist, Congress passed the Narcotic Control Act in 1956, which heightened the levels of control of these substances, but statistics show that this led to more illicit sale of the same drugs. Americans have been determined to procure and abuse opiate medications no matter the level of control over these dangerous drugs.
Since there is a medical necessity for opiate painkillers, physicians have been left with the responsibility of deciding to whom these drugs should ethically be prescribed and which patients can be treated with non-addictive painkillers. Leaving this choice to individual physicians hasn’t been successful ensuring that only those with documented medical need are allowed access to these drugs. Since the decision as which patients actually need this level of pain medication is mostly a subjective determination on the part of private physicians, there continues to be many Americans becoming addicted to these drugs who should never have had access to this level of pain management.
As long as the public desires these drugs, there will be doctors that will profit on liberal prescribing of medications that ultimately cause more harm than good. This problem has reached epidemic levels of abuse across the U.S.
Teenage Prescription Drug Abuse
Opiate painkillers are not the only prescription drug of abuse in America today. A number of national studies show that besides pain relievers, there is prescription abuse of tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives. Prescription drug abuse among teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 has become the second most abused illegal drug behind marijuana. (In fact, a study in 2006 found that for the first time, there are as many new teenage abusers of prescription drugs as there are for marijuana.)
In interviews with these teenagers, it was found that our prevention messages are not hindering their desire to seek out these medications. Many hold the belief that abusing prescription medications is medically safer than other illicit drugs. It has also be recognized that it is easier for teenagers to get prescription drugs since, many times they have easy access to these drugs from their parent’s or relative’s medicine cabinets.
In contradiction to illicit drugs, it is found that girls are more likely to intentionally abuse prescription drugs to high, with OxyContin and Vicodin being the most commonly abuse prescription drugs by teenagers.
Studies show that today, prescription drugs account for the second most commonly abused category of drugs, again behind marijuana, but above cocaine, heroin, meth, and other drugs. In 2000, which is the most recent year that these statistics have been analyzed, around nine million Americans above the age of 12 reported that they have used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes.
To counteract this prevalence of abuse, which leads to addiction, crimes and death, Federal and State governments have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs. Fifteen states currently operate prescription drugs monitoring programs as a means to control the illegal diversion of prescription drugs.
Certainly government and law enforcement have a vital role in limiting the illicit diversion of these drugs, but as long as opiates, like OxyContin, that sell for $4 a pill legally can bring $40 to 50 dollars on the streets, there will always be more diversion than we can afford to monitor and control.
Prescription drug abuse is not only a legal issue, but is more predominately a public health problem. OxyContin, which is the number one drug of diversion and represents countless dollars lost from the effects of addiction and the consequential rehabilitation that comes from these types of addictive opiates. Since this drug was first produced in 1995 by Purdue Pharma, it has been implicated in many times more U.S. deaths than caused by 9/11 and the Iraq War combined.
OxyContin is chemically similar and nearly identical to the molecular makeup of heroin and is the choice of many heroin addicts over their street drug choice of heroin. This evidence doesn’t seem to influence the FDA since they continue to document that OxyContin has a low addiction potential.
Misleading the Public About Addictive Drugs
However, in 2007, three top executives at Purdue Pharma pled guilty in relation to misleading the public about addictive qualities and the drug’s safety and paid fines of $634 million. In light of these findings, the power and greed of corporate America has kept Purdue Pharma from having any other restrictions on the manufacture and sale of this drug. OxyContin is a “virus” that has led to an epidemic of addiction in our country. Many physicians have documented that there are many less addictive and less euphoria analgesics that can easily replace this drug. Since the government won’t take the initiative to ban this legal heroin, healthcare providers and the public have started a petition to ban OxyContin. There are many petitions requesting that this drug is banned, including one by physicians stating that it interferes with good medical practice, yet there haven’t been any actions to comply with common public health sense.
Since prescription drugs are now being manufactured to compete with heroin and other street drugs, it is obvious that the public will continue to suffer from this form of drug abuse. Our country needs to follow the pubic health advice of some of our European friends that put strong restrictions on the types and amounts of addictive drugs that can be prescribed. Denmark doesn’t offer its pubic the numerous types of opiate pain killers, but only allows for buprenorphine, which is mildly addictive and for extreme cases, morphine, which is also less addictive than OxyContin and many of the America’s other popular legal drugs.
Prescription Drug Abuse Message
We need to continue and enhance our prescription drug abuse messages and take the personal responsibility to make our voices heard through petitions and contact with our elected representatives that we can no longer afford to allow our neighbors and their children to have easy access to these dangerous drugs.
Call Narconon International and speak to a rehab counselor today.