"You need something for that shoulder pain? I can fix you right up." The woman meant to help someone in pain, but she was doing something illegal: sharing drugs that had been prescribed for her.
In this case, the drug was oxycodone (OxyContin), the most abused prescription medication in the United States. And a recent news headline has experts getting ready for what they expect to be an even bigger abuse problem, a pain medication 10 times stronger than Vicodin.
NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that the most often abused prescription drugs are opioids (for pain relief), CNS depressants (for anxiety/sleep problems) and stimulants (for ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity). Take a look at the responses to the prevalent (what they reported using) 12th graders list from the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study (Michigan University):
1. Marijuana/hashish (cannabinoids)
2. Vicodin (opioid)
3. Cough medicine
4. Adderall (stimulant: ADHD)
6. Salvia (dissociative drug)
8. OxyContin (opioid)
10. Ecstasy (club drug)
11. inhalants (solvents, aerosol propellants, nitrites, etc)
12. Cocaine (stimulant)
13. Ritalin (stimulant-ADHD)
Scary stuff for a parent to think about, isn't it? The most abused drugs in the U.S. are reported to be tobacco (nicotine), alcohol (ethyl alcohol), cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants, club drugs, dissociative drugs, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, inhalants and prescription drugs.
Over the holidays the following headline came over the wire: New powerful painkiller has abuse experts worried.
The new painkiller is considered 10 times stronger than Vicodin. If it is approved, patients will be legally permitted to buy pure hydrocodone. You may know that it is usually combined with nonaddictive painkillers like acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is a problem because it can cause liver problems.
But knowing that hydrocodone is the second most-abused medication behind oxycodone, per the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) there could be serious health problems ahead for those folks who will seek the effects of opioids.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 15,000 people died in 2008 because of prescription painkillers. That is three times as many as in 1999. Emergency room visits jumped from under 20,000 in 2000 to nearly 87,000 in 2009.
Why is it so popular? Opiates block pain but give feelings of euphoria. But addiction comes easily and withdrawal is painful. After a time, they become ineffective and a replacement addiction is needed, something stronger. How popular are these addictive pain medications? The U.S. uses 99 percent of the world's hydrocodone and 83 percent of oxycodone.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs of substance abuse. For more information on this topic, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County and ODADAS (Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services).