Steep rise in abuse of legal drugs

Between 1995 and 2002, there was a 163 percent increase in the number of emergency room visitis tied to the abuse of prescription drugs according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency. SAMSHA estimates 9 million people now abuse prescription drugs, meaning they use them for nonmedical,and often recreational,purposes.Three million abusers are kids between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. And the abuse can be deadly:Prescription drugs now play a factor in a quarter of all overdose deaths reported in the US.
US drug officials say this represents a dramatic surge – one that took them by surprise. It has presented a whole new set of challenges, such as a lack of law- enforcement resources to track down shadowy Internet sites and unethical doctors and pharmacists. Another key issue: finding a way to balance any law- enforcement measures with the needs of legitimate online pharmacies that have helped the elderly and others save money and time.Federal officials have decided one way to combat the problem is with education. SAMHSA and the Food and Drug Administration have launched a national campaign to warn people that the misuse of prescription drugs is dangerous, as well as illegal.
A complex array of factors has led to the spike in abuse of prescription drugs. There’s the overall increase in the legitimate use of prescription drugs as a society. For instance, since 1995, the number of Ritalin prescriptions written by doctors has quadrupled. During that same time, the stimulant became a favorite recreational drug among teens.
The number of OxyContin prescriptions written between 1996 and 2000 increased 20-fold. One theory contends that the increase in HIV and hepatitis C has prompted some illegal substance abusers to switch to prescription drugs like OxyContin, which can have an effect similar to heroin.
The rise of the Internet has been another factor. Since 1999, online pharmacies – legitimate and otherwise – have mushroomed, giving youth and addicts alike what appears to be easy access to the drug of their choice.

Source: By Alexandra Marks,staff writer of christian science Monitor oct 1st 2003
Filed under: Prescription Drugs,USA,Youth :

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