Prescription Drug use and Overdose

Did you know...  46 Americans pass away from prescription painkiller overdoses each day??

I guess I could say I have been very blessed to have adversity and many (More than I have wanted) life events. That sounds weird to call our stress and losses as blessings, but later (Much, much, much later); we appreciate the events we go through as it makes you realize how strong you can be.

I lost my Sweet Sister Kerry to Pain Killers, Oxycodone to be specific. This topic has been very heavy on my mind for over 4 years now. This is not a new problem, however, for the reasons that I am no longer able to speak with her every day and with the high number of people abusing medications, I feel it is a huge problem that needs new attention.

The misuse and abuse of prescription medications in our country remains high, but few people are aware of just how big the problem really is. Drugs, when taken as prescribed kill more than 106,000 Americans each year, and the death toll from overdosing on painkillers is now greater than both car accidents and death from illegal drug use. According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the CDC, the rate of drug overdose deaths between 1999 and 2014 for Caucasians between the ages of 25 and 34 rose by 500 percent. The overdose rate for people 35 to 44 years old tripled.

Here is some disturbing data regarding our painkiller abuse:

  • Over 7 million people abuse prescription medication
  • In 2010, Enough Prescription painkillers were prescribed to medicate every Adult American every 4 hours for a whole month
  • 3 out of 4 overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers
  • The United States consumes 75% of the world’s prescription drugs
  • Half of a million people are in the emergency room due to painkiller misuse
  • Young people, as young as 8th grade are starting to use 
  • In the past 15 years, there has been a 300% increase of prescription drug overdoses. 

The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall under 3 categories: Painkillers (Opioids), Anti depressants/Tranquilizers, and stimulants.

* Opioids: These could include Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), Oxycodone (e.g., Oxycontin, Percocet), morphine, and codeine. Opioids work by reducing the perception of pain and stimulating the brain’s “reward center,” producing a feeling of euphoria. Other consequences include a lack of interest in activities and school or work, decreased attention to personal hygiene, and needing to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect (also called “tolerance”).

* Central nervous system depressants: Also called tranquillizers and anti depressants, these include barbiturates and benzodiazepines. They are used for treating anxiety, panic attacks, depression, insomnia, seizures, nausea, and vomiting. They have a calming, relaxing effect on the brain.

* Stimulants: This class increases brain activity, thereby increasing alertness and energy.

In the Nutrition and Integrative health Fields, there is such great success with balancing the neurotransmitters in the brain. We can test to see which Neurotransmitters are low and supplement naturally to boost those that are low. Increasing amino acids, getting exercise (Including meditation/yoga), feeding the mind and spirit, as well as establishing new thinking patterns are important as well.

More than 87% of Americans saw a Doctor last year. According to the CDC, those doctors wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioids
​,  No, Doctors are not only to blame. However, 62% of abusers say 
“It was easy to get meds from their doc or someone’s medicine cabinet.” Others say 
“The pills are easy to get through other people's prescriptions.” 

Our Doctors and pharmacists need to be more Mindful and involved in identifying and preventing prescription drug abuse. In addition, we need to start treating the cause of pain and disease, not just the result.


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