America has supported the illicit drug trade for many decades, but recently, the diversion of legal prescription drugs has become our most pressing problem.
A study in 2006 discovered that there are as many new teenager abusers of prescription drugs as there are for those abusing addiction marijuana. Studies of teenager prescription drug abuse found that girls are more likely to abuse these drugs than boys and their rationale is a false feeling that medicines are safer than street drugs.
Other studies show that prescription drugs are the second most abused category of drugs with marijuana being in first place. Prescription drug abuse is more prevalent than the abuse of tranquilizers, sedatives and stimulates, including methamphetamines.
This diversion of prescription drugs didn’t happen without the support of those who profit from their sale, in particular, unethical physicians, pharmaceutical companies and, of course, drug peddlers.
OxiContin, oxicontin an opiate pain reliever, has become an epidemic addiction problem because it produces the same or even more euphoria than heroin. The manufacturer of this drug states that it was a coincidence that their product has an almost identical molecular structure as heroin, but in 2007, three of the company’s executives pled guilty to misleading the public about the addictive potential of their drug and paid a $634 million fine for their crime. However, the FDA still reports that OxyContin has a low addictive potential.
Ethical physicians and the public have started petitions to ban the manufacture and sale of OxyContin since there are other analgesics that are equally has effective and much less addictive. Again, the federal regulators have supported the pharmaceutical corporation and not the evidence or the public.
The United States government through the FDA has approved the sale of more opiate-based painkillers than are found in most other western countries. Many other countries do not allow for the sale or use of opiate addictive painkillers other than morphine; a drug which is less attractive to someone looking for the euphoria that can accompany some of the approved drugs in America.
The street trade from prescription drugs addiction is also a factor in this rise of abuse since many of the opiate pain relievers sell at the pharmacies for $2 to $4, but their street values are over $40 a pill.
In spite of these financial incentives that continue to continue to support prescription drug diversion, American are lacking an appreciation of the consequences of addiction to these drugs. Physicians from all areas of our country are inundated with patients that are seeking these addictive drugs. Many are posting signs in their offices that they do not write prescriptions for controlled substances, but there are many other doctors that are filling their waiting rooms with new and returning patients because they have liberal prescription policies and their reputations soon spread. Any physician that prescribes an addictive drug should spend the time to educate their patients on the outcomes that they can expect from continued use.
What is missing is a concerted effort to promote prevention messages that will help the public to raise their awareness about the personal physical, emotional and financial cost of becoming addicted to these “medications”.