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November 18, 2016

Nearly a third of new drug abusers begin their downward spiral into addiction with prescription drugs, and potent narcotic painkillers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, are the first-time choice for one in every five new abusers, says a new report from the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC). And all across the country, thousands of people who have fallen victim to prescription drug addiction are searching for treatment to help them get back their lives.Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, has released a report on prescription drug diversion and abuse, calling non-medical use of prescription drugs a serious threat to public health and safety.According to the report, unintentional deaths involving prescription opioid painkillers increased 114 percent from 2001 to 2005, while treatment admissions increased 74 percent in the same period.

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Since then, unofficial figures suggest the destructive trend is only getting worse. More than 8,500 Americans died in 2005 as a result of prescription drug addiction and abuse, all involving opioid painkillers. That’s a 114 percent increase since 2001. Emergency room visits for nonmedical use of painkillers increased 39 percent from 2004 to 2006, and treatment admissions increased 74 percent from 2002 to 2006. Nearly a third of all individuals who began abusing drugs in the past year say their first drug was a prescription drug — and 19 percent indicated it was a prescription opioid. Thus, 1 in 5 new drug abusers are initiating use with potent narcotics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone.The most recent reports have revealed that diverted prescription drugs are more readily available than heroin in all drug markets. Opioid painkillers are most commonly diverted, and are the drugs most associated with prescription drug addiction, injury and death. Diversion methods include prescription drug fraud such as “doctor shopping” and forged prescriptions, outright theft and robberies at knife- or gun-point, along with rogue Internet pharmacies, friends and relatives.In fact, says the NDIC, the primary source of controlled prescription drugs are friends and relatives, most of whom have no idea they are supporting someone’s prescription drug addiction by leaving their Vicodin, OxyContin or Perocet lying around where it can be stolen, or by handing pills out to friends or family members in a misguided attempt to help.

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Diversion of prescription drugs is reported as highest in the eastern states, but violent crime, as well as theft and burglaries, have increased in all regions of the United States over the past 5 years, says the report.If you know someone with a prescription drug addiction or abuse problem, do them a favor and help them into a medical drug detox center to begin the treatment that could do more than just end drug abuse — it could save their life.

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