Prescription Drug Deaths in USA

In 2009, Mainesaw 179 deaths due to overdose and 165 of those were related to prescription drugs. Many of the abused prescription drugs are respiratory depressants such as Oxycontin®, Vicodin ® and Oxycodone which slow down one’s breathing to dangerous levels, are addictive and can lead to death in overdose situations.

For many of these drugs, it does not take a large amount to have dangerous health effects. According to recent data, nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs, more than those abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy, and inhalants combined.  That 7 million was just 3.8 million in 2000, an 80 percent increase in just six years.

Some teens are also abusing over-the-counter drugs, primarily cough and cold remedies that contain dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant.  Products with DXM include Nyquil, Coricidin and Robitussin, among others. Teens often have easy access to these products. The abuse of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies can cause blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, coma and even death.

As a result of the increase in prescription drug abuse, many communities are seeing an increased need for health-care and law enforcement services. Robberies and burglaries have increased nearly 4 percent in Maine from 6,848 in 2008 to 7,109 in 2009, according to reports.

According to the Maine DEA, prescription drug-related arrests accounted for 41 percent of all drug arrests for the first six months of 2009. Maine’s unintentional poisoning deaths (most all related to prescription drug abuse and misuse), rose 210 percent from 1999 to 2004.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional poisoning deaths have become the second leading cause of unintentional death second only to motor vehicle accidents. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of visits to hospital emergency departments involving the non-medical use of narcotic painkillers increased 111 percent.

What can parents do to safeguard their kids from the dangers these medicines pose? 

Educate yourself a talk with your kids because your opinion really does count! Studies consistently show that parents are the No. 1 influence on their kids, yet the MIYHS student survey revealed that 58 percent of students admitted their parents had not talked to them about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs within the past year.

Feel like you don’t know enough about this issue to guide them?

Visit CASA’s website at for resource materials

Safeguard. Measures to take at home include: monitor all drugs in your home by recording quantities and storing them in a secure location; set clear rules for your kids about all drug use, including not sharing medicine and always following prescriptions and dosages as they’re written; be a good role model by following these same rules with your own medications.

Source:  22nd Oct 2010

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