Posts Tagged ‘drug abuse’


America’s Prescription Drug Addiction

August 5, 2008

The rise in prescription drug abuse by teenagers and adults seems to be in the news more these days. A recent Reuters article has some alarming stats to illustrate the problem. According to the article, federal data shows that overdose deaths fueled by prescription drugs now surpass motor vehicle deaths as the nation’s No. 1 cause of accidental death in the 45-54 age group. Federal data also shows nearly 7 million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2007, up 80% since 2000. That’s more than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants such as marijuana combined.

Containing prescription drug abuse is extremely difficult. There is limited legislation for the monitoring of prescription drugs and their sources, however, this is not available in all states. Many people have mastered the art of “doctor shopping” to get more of the drugs they need. The Internet also has a wide range of prescription drugs available to anyone with a credit card, with many sites not requiring a prescription. Kids look no further than their parents medicine cabinet to get their fix. And some parents are tricked into thinking that prescription pills aren’t as bad as illegal drugs since they originally came from a credible source.

There’s also the problem of doctors prescribing drugs before helping their patients in other ways. ran an AP article yesterday about psychiatrists using psychotherapy, or talk therapy, less and prescribing pills more. Despite the effectiveness of talk therapy, insurance companies reimburse at a lower rate for a 45-minute psychotherapy visit than for three 15-minute medication visits, the article explained.

So far, there hasn’t been much talk about how the U.S. is going to tackle this problem. Legislation can help track who’s prescribing to whom and how often, but there needs to be more education about prescription drugs and their dangers. August was named National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month in a resolution introduced by Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-Del.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The resolution calls for “community involvement and participation in efforts to educate parents about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse among teens.”

It’s time for America to start paying attention to its addiction to prescription drugs.

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From Reuters: US grapples with rising prescription drug addiction
From Study: Less talk, more pills from psychiatrists
From August Named National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month
From this blog: Posts on Prescription Drugs

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UK Report Estimates Public Cost of Single Drug Addict Over $1.5M

June 19, 2008

A government report coming out of the United Kingdom estimates that a single drug addict costs taxpayers more than £800,000 (about $1.569 million) over his or her lifetime. Interestingly enough, a female drug addict was estimated to cost £859,000 (about $1.692 million), while a male user cost slightly less at £827,000 ($1.629).

The admittedly conservative numbers, as reported by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, were calculated by looking at factors such as the cost of crime and healthcare under Great Britain’s National Health Service. The report also suggested that this cost could be reduced by more than £730,000 (about $1.4 million) if drug addicts were successfully given treatment by the age of 21. According to the BBC report, there are thought to be about 350,000 problem drug users in Britain.

So, how does the United States compare? According to a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), total economic cost of drug abuse was $97.7 million back in 1992. This estimate includes substance abuse treatment and prevention costs as well as other healthcare costs, costs associated with reduced job productivity or lost earnings, and other costs to society such as crime and social welfare.

Bottom line is that drug and alcohol addiction is costly to society. With access to proper treatment and more prevention efforts, these costs would go down tremendously.

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From the BBC: Addicts cost taxpayers £800,000
From NIDA: Costs to Society from Drug Abuse

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