Friday, November 04, 2011

Prescription Painkiller Abuse - A Growing Problem

Painkiller Medications Killing One Person Every Forty Minutes

LABELLE, FL. -- Prescription painkillers (drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone) killed nearly 15,000 people in 2008—one person every forty minutes. For every person who died of a prescription painkiller overdose in 1999, nearly four died in 2008.

In rural Hendry County, Florida, 1 in 10 15 to 17 year olds have tried a prescription painkiller. In Florida, seven people die everyday due to prescription drugs, says Bianca Ross, program coordinator of Drug Free Hendry County, of the Hendry-Glades Health Department in LaBelle.

(Video: Operation Medicine Cabinet - On November 5th members of the Hendry and Charlotte County Health Departments, the Hendry Sheriff's Department and Explorers, and J&J Pharmacy collected old prescription drugs for safe disposal. The Explorers offered free food.)

But the number of deaths isn't the whole story. This sharp rise in prescription painkiller overdoses parallels a similarly large increase in painkiller sales. Four times as many prescription painkillers were sold in the U.S. last year than in 1999.

More than half of all people who misuse prescription painkillers report getting their drugs from a family member or friend. Individuals must make sure to use prescription painkillers only as directed and to never share them with others. People should also take care to store their prescriptions safely, dispose of them properly and get help if they have substance abuse problems.

The lives impacted by painkiller abuse and overdose can be found everywhere—a father who becomes addicted to painkillers after a work injury and overdoses, a teenager who takes an old bottle of painkillers from a relative's medicine cabinet or a mother who loses a son to painkillers only to find her other child is also addicted.

-From Grant Baldwin, CDC and Hendry County Health Department

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