Drugs kill more people than motor vehicle accidents in the United States today.This large shift reflects the improvements in road safety through a troubling rise in prescription drug abuse.
Doctor Leonard Paulozzi, a medical epidemiologist in the division of unintentional injury prevention, has stated that prescription drugs were raising the death toll. He continues to say that the reason that there has been a dramatic rise in prescription drug use lies on doctors that have become liberal in prescribing them. The majority of drug related deaths have stemmed from accidental overdose from opioid painkillers. Since there has been a decrease in the rate of motor vehicle accident mortality, deaths due to drugs have passed vehicle deaths. It has not been this high since 1979, when the government began to track drug related deaths.
Bob Anderson, chief of the CDC mortality statistic branch, believes this to be bittersweet. He says that it is important that there has been a decrease in motor vehicle fatalities, but the steep growth in drug related deaths is due to drug overdosing.
The Substance Abuse Services Administration claims that illegal drug use is also on the rise. Last year, close to nine percent of Americans over the age of twelve had used illegal substances such as marijuana. Prescription drug abuse has remained steady. However, that is what is sending more people to the hospital or to rehab clinics.
There is a great number of people who have begun to have bad consequences and recognize that they need help. Many people consider prescription drugs to be safe. However, some can be very addictive, even when taken the way that they were prescribed. A tolerance can be built very quickly. When people assume that medicine is safe, it leads them to take too many or combine them with alcohol or other drugs. This can be fatal.
A prescription painkiller such as oxycodone or Hydrocodone, the main ingredients in Oxycontin and Vicodin, land huge amounts of people in emergency rooms. The number doubles with each passing year.
Joel Saper a founder of the Michigan Neurological Institute, says that this is proof of the unleashed prescriptions of painkillers all across the country. Pain is not a tangible element. A physician must carefully access each person to see how much pain they may be in. It is a matter of trust. A monster has been created because most physicians are over anxious to prescribe powerful and addictive drugs.
In April 2011, President Obama unveiled a plan to curtail this epidemic. This plan supports state based prescription drug programs that monitor doctors and educate the patients. There is also a new take back program that is used to safely get rid of unused prescription narcotics.
Policies may be put into effect that can curb the abuse of painkillers, but it may hurt the companies that produce these drugs and the doctors that prescribe them. Until this problem can be better controlled, there will be a continued growth of drug related deaths in this country.