Posts Tagged ‘Prescription Drugs’


3 Things to Take Away from the Tragedies of Schuler, Jackson and Mays

August 14, 2009

There has been a lot of media coverage lately around the tragic deaths of Long Island mom Diane Schuler, pop star Michael Jackson and pitchman Billy Mays. All of the stories include allegations of alcohol and / or drug abuse or misuse. All include real people whose lives were taken too soon. And all of the stories leave mourning families with a whole lot of questions. So, what can we take away from these tragic stories?

1. Addicted women need to be able to come out of hiding to get the treatment they need without the fear that society will reject them. 92% of women do not receive needed treatment for alcohol and drug problems. The intense shame and guilt that women experience, especially mothers, when they are abusing drugs or alcohol keeps women from seeking treatment for their problem. Even in the most modern families, women are most often the caretakers of the family. Who will take over the role when mom has to take a break to seek the help she needs? When faced with the choice of seeking help for their problem or taking care of their kids and family, they’ll almost always choose the kids. Studies have shown that children typically learn of their father’s alcoholism when they are about 12.6 years of age, while they don’t learn of their mother’s alcoholism until 18.3. Schuler was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and marijuana when she drove the wrong way down the Taconic State Parkway in New York when she hit a car head on, killing 8 people, including herself, her 2-year old daughter and 3 young nieces. Her family says they never saw her drunk.

2. We need to pay attention to the rise in prescription drug abuse in America. Prescription drugs, or the mixture of prescription drugs with other drugs or alcohol, may have contributed to both Jackson and Mays’ deaths. Federal data shows nearly 7 million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2007, up 80% since 2000. According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), nearly one in five (an estimated 4.7 million) teens have ever abused prescription drugs. Prescription drugs were second only to marijuana for those 7th – 12th graders reporting to ever trying drugs in 2008. Most teens get their prescription drugs straight from their family’s medicine cabinet and think it is safe because it comes from a doctor. Doctor shopping, and even dentist shopping, has become popular.

3. We need to talk to each other about our experiences with addiction, whether it is through our own past abuses or through dealing with a friend of family member’s addiction. When someone is diagnosed with asthma or diabetes, they consult doctors and specialists, learn about their disease and treatments, maybe even make some lifestyle changes. Chances are, the person hears other people’s stories about their bouts with the same disease and how they handled it. They talk about it, and they deal with it. Think about it. Most people could probably name a cancer center near them, but how many could name a substance abuse treatment center in the same area? How many Mainers know about Crossroads for Women? While treatment and support options for drug and alcohol are lacking in many communities, they do exist. You don’t read about addiction research as much as you do about asthma or diabetes or cancer. Even those that conquer addiction and find recovery often don’t talk about their past for fear that they will be unfairly judged.

Addiction is a disease that needs to be addressed and treated. It is a disease that can tear apart families and ruin lives, yet it’s still something we are too ashamed to talk about. What would happen if we did?

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The legal ramifications of enabling a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction

March 20, 2009

Last week, Anna Nicole Smith’s partner / lawyer, Howard K. Stern, and two doctors were charged with multiple felonies for illegally supplying the drugs that ultimately led to her accidental fatal overdose in February of 2007. Several prescription drugs were found in the room in which she died.

It was reported that all three men were charged with “prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict,” among other felonies. The two doctors, Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich, were also charged with illegally obtaining prescriptions for opiates. (Read the CNN article on the charges)

Anna Nicole’s sad case puts a spotlight on the extreme ramifications, in this case death and legal action, that can occur when enabling a loved one’s drug and/or alcohol addiction. While supplying the drugs to an addict is an obvious enabling activity, some enabling behaviors are not as overt.

Many family members and friends of addicted men and women don’t know how to handle the effects of the addiction. They don’t know how to act. How they can help. If they can help. And they probably aren’t taking care of themselves in the meantime.

Crossroads for Women will be offering its 4-week educational series, “The Effects of Addiction on Friends and Family,” starting on April 7th at its outpatient office in Portland, Maine. The series helps those affected by someone else’s drug or alcohol problem – whether that person is in treatment, recovery or still in active addiction – by educating them on the basics of addiction, the recovery process and how to take care of themselves while also being supportive of the addicted loved one. Find out more about the series and how to sign up

In the end, the more knowledge a person has on addiction and its effects on everyone around it, the better he or she can cope.

Read more on enabling a loved one’s addiction:

Anna Nicole’s Enablers Face Felony Charges (from’s alcoholism blog)

Are you enabling your loved one’s alcohol or drug problem? (from this blog)

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Are You a Problem Parent?

August 15, 2008

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University released the results of their National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIII: Teens and Parents. It’s the 13th year they’ve done the back to school survey. This year, they’ve identified “problem parents” as increasing the risk that teens will smoke, drink or use drugs. They define problem parents as “those who fail to monitor their children’s school night activities, safeguard their prescription drugs, address the problem of drugs in their children’s schools, and set good examples.”

Here are some highlights of their findings:

  • 50% of teens (12 – 17 years old) who come home after 10:00pm on a school night say that drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or other drug use occurs
  • 29% of teens who come home between 8:00pm and10:00pm on a school night say that drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or other drug use occurs.
  • Only 14% of parents say their teens usually leave the house to hang out with friends on school nights
  • More teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer (19% vs. 15%), the first time in the CASA survey’s history
  • When teens who know prescription drug abusers were asked where those kids get their drugs:
    • 31% said from friends or classmates
    • 34% said from home, parents or the medicine cabinet
    • 16% said other
    • Only 9% said from a drug deale
  • Drugs topped the list for the 13th year of the survey as the biggest concern teens face
  • 28% of teens cite drugs as the biggest problem they face, compared to only 17% of parents who see drugs as the top teen concern
  • Parents overwhelmingly say it is harder today to keep kids safe (84%) and to raise a teen “of good moral character” (72%)

According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s chairman and president, “Preventing substance abuse among teens is primarily a Mom and Pop operation. It is inexcusable that so many parents fail to appropriately monitor their children, fail to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the reach of their children and tolerate drug infected schools. The parents who smoke marijuana with children should be considered child abusers. By identifying the characteristics of problem parents we seek to identify actions that parents can take—and avoid—in order to become part of the solution and raise healthy, drug-free children.”

Read more about the CASA survey

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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.

Read More
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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