by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor
According to a study done by Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit organization in Washington, more people are dying due to prescription drugs than from cocaine and heroin combined.
Prescription drug related deaths now surpass vehicle-related deaths in more than 29 states, with more than 6.1 million people using the drugs across the nation.
The amount of deaths due to the drugs are highest in the most poor part of the country, like West Virginia with 29 deaths per every 100,000 people. This is surprising, considering how much money the drugs cost.
The most common prescription drugs that are abused are painkillers, such as OxyCotin, Percocet, Vicodin, sedatives, and stimulants.
There are programs in every state to monitor the misuse of these drugs, but usually funding is weak and strategies are often broad, so they are not that effective.
While men are the most common group to abuse the drugs, women are now starting to use them inappropriately as well, with rates increasing 400 percent since 1999.
“When I think of drugs, I think of crack and weed, not the pills my doctor prescribes me. The number of deaths these pills are causing is ridiculous! Something must be done with regards to regulation of distributing these pills to people. Like background checks or something,” says junior Michelle Barclay.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs are electronic devices used to track the prescription pills given to patients that are supposed to prevent “doctor shopping”, which is getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors.
State providers do not have access to these programs and therefore cannot use them to their full potential to stop these crimes from happening.
To prevent more overdose deaths from happening, health experts say the programs must be modernized to integrate public health systems. Expanding access to the PDMPs will help lower the number of people abusing the drugs.
Training doctors on prescription drug abuse is also an important part of prevention, along with an expansion of public and private insurance programs to cover substance abuse treatment.
Prescription drug abuse costs in the United States is around 54 billion dollars each year in criminal justice and medical expenses, and it is becoming easier to gain access to pills everyday.
The drugs are being continuously bought on the streets, and now even on the internet. On websites like Craigslist, anonymous dealers are selling drugs like Oxycontin, Norco, Xanax, and Viagra over the internet for a large profit.
Undercover police officers are pretending to buy these drugs illegally and then busting whomever is selling them, but doing so is a prolonged process. Law enforcement officials are considering trying to get Craigslist banned for allowing individuals to post illegal activity.
“Craigslist should really do something about these postings. Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem and it needs to be controlled. A relative of mine became addicted to pain killers and he had to go to rehab for months to recover. Allowing these pills to be sold online just creates even more addicts. It is time for police, doctor, and government officials to work together in order to find a solution,” says an anonymous student.
Do you think the United States will be able to end illegal drugs being sold on Craigslist? Do you think the drug problem will decrease in the future?