The Drug Class Blog

Aug 28



I hear more and more from teens that this is really becoming an issue. More and more kids are using pharmaceuticals to get high and using them with other drugs particularly alcohol. The following statistics are from USA but if we divide them by 10 (pull out your calculators) we will get fairly accurate numbers for Canada

Would it surprise you to learn that prescription drug overdoses now kill more people (Drug overdoses and brain damage linked to long-term drug abuse killed an estimated 37,485 people in 2009, the latest year for which preliminary data are available, surpassing the toll of traffic accidents by 1,201. And the number is likely to rise as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepares to release its official statistics in December.) than car accidents? Somehow that message doesn't seem to be getting out, says the CDC, which now calls prescription drug abuse an epidemic.
From CDC "In 2007, approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 19 minutes. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. The increase in unintentional drug overdose death rates in recent years has been driven by increased use of a class of prescription drugs called opioid analgesics Since 2003, more overdose deaths have involved opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined). In addition, for every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesic, nine persons are admitted for substance abuse treatment (2), 35 visit emergency departments (3), 161 report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report nonmedical uses of opioid analgesics (4). Implementing strategies that target those persons at greatest risk will require strong coordination and collaboration at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, as well as engagement of parents, youth influencers, health-care professionals, and policy-makers. "

Over the past 20 years, the death rate from drug overdoses has tripled, CDC data shows, with prescription painkillers the reason for much of that rise. In 2008 there were 36,000 deaths overdose deaths, almost all of which were from prescription painkillers.

The growth rate is pretty shocking; in 2010 (the last year the CDC has data for), 2 million people reported that they had begun to use prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes within the past year. That, says the CDC, comes out to 5,500 a day. The number of people seeking treatment for prescription painkillers rose 400 percent between 2004 and 2008.

Because they can so handily be "borrowed" from friends and family, and because — being technically legal – they seem innocent, prescription drugs are becoming frighteningly popular with teens, experts say. According to the FDA, one in seven teenagers admits to abusing prescription drugs to get high in the past year, and prescription painkillers are now teenagers' top choice after alcohol and pot. The problem is, teenagers are unlikely to understand how highly addictive these drugs are. After all, if mom or dad takes them for her knee injury, they can't be that big a deal, right?

Dead Celebrities – Death from Multi-Drug Abuse
Actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of six prescription drugs, including painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, the medical examiner ruled The 28-year-old star consumed a toxic blend of medications: oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications," spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The drugs are the generic names for the OxyContin painkiller, the anti-anxiety drug Valium, Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. Hydrocodone is used in a several painkillers, including Vicodin.

While some people are certainly doing it on purpose, many others are overdosing themselves unknowingly. The list of prescription medicines that depress the central nervous system is long. It includes the big names, like oxycodone and Vicodin, but it also includes sleep aids, both prescription and OTC, anti-anxiety drugs, even antihistamines. (Diphenhydramine, commonly known as Benadryl, for example).

Each of these drugs slows heart rate and breathing; combine them unwittingly and you can stop breathing altogether. Add alcohol (also a central nervous system depressant) to one or more of these drugs, and you can slide into a coma while you sleep.  (From CDC, NY Medical Examiner)

The biggest part of this problem is that once someone gets impaired they lose their ability to make rational decisions and can easily start to think "one is good..two will be better" or "why not try this or that too".

We need to continue to work to slow down the thinking "party harder".

What do you think?

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