Prescription Drug Epidemic Update 01

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Acording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs are the second-most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other substances. In 2009, nearly 7 million people in the United States were nonmedical psychotherapeutic drug users. And opiate overdoses, once almost exclusive to heroin use, are now increasingly caused by misuse of prescription painkillers. While prescription drug abuse is not a new problem, it deserves renewed attention because of its prevalence and how often it affects children. After tobacco and alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most frequently abused substances by high-school seniors. Nearly one in 12 high-school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin and one in 20 reported abuse of OxyContin. Fifty-nine percent of 12th graders said the drugs were given to them by a friend or relative. Prescription drug abuse is correlated with other risky behaviors including abuse of other drugs and alcohol.
There are many health concerns associated with prescription drug abuse. These risks include overdose, drug interactions and the possibility of the drugs falling into the hands of children with allergies, to name just a few. While opioids, such as codeine, oxycodone and morphine, have improved pain management, they have also become popular drugs for misuse. Central-nervous system depressants, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, can lead to overdose and dangerous withdrawal, including seizures. Abuse of stimulants like dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate (commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy) can cause psychosis, seizures and cardiovascular complications. Because prescription drugs are legal when properly used, they can often be found in our own medicine cabinets. If you have leftover medications that are not needed, do not flush them down the toilet or drain unless the label or patient information instructs you to do so. For information on drugs that can be flushed, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration‘s website at and click on ―Resources for You.‖
To dispose of non-flushable prescription drugs, you may be able to participate in community drug take-back programs or household hazardous waste-collection events, which collect drugs at central locations for proper disposal. Contact your city or county household trash and recycling service and ask if a drug take-back program is available in your community. If a take-back program is not available, the Office of National Drug Control Policy recommends these simple steps to ensure your no-longer-needed prescription drugs are not improperly used:
 Take the medication out of its original container.
 Mix the drug with an undesirable substance such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
 Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid such as an empty margarine tub or sealable bag.
 Conceal or remove all personal information, including the Rx number, with permanent marker, duct tape or by scratching it off.
 Place the sealed container with the mixture and the empty drug container in the trash.
Advances in medicine allow for management of acute and chronic pain and have improved the lives of many. But some of these medications are potentially addicting. If someone you know is struggling with prescription drug use, discuss it with your health care provider or use one of the many resources the Department of Defense makes available to service members, retirees and their families. Today, more than ever, health care providers are sensitive to the needs of those struggling with substance use and dependence. TRICARE is there to help! For information about TRICARE‘s substance use treatment coverage, refer to [Source: TRICARE Health Matters Fall 2011 ++]


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