Earlier this month, the advocacy group Trust for America's Health released a comprehensive report designed to raise awareness about the major problem of prescription drug abuse here in the United States. Somewhat shockingly, the report revealed that prescription drugs -- particularly painkillers or opioids -- are now responsible for more fatal drug overdoses that both heroin and cocaine combined.
In addition, the report determined the following concerning prescription drug abuse here in the U.S.:
- Nearly 50 people die every day because of a prescription drug overdose
- Prescription drugs are responsible for over 16,000 fatalities and 475,000 emergency rooms visits every year
As if this wasn't shocking enough, the report also determined the following concerning prescription drug abuse here in Connecticut:
- The number of fatal drug overdoses in the state spiked 12 percent from 1999 to 2010, with the majority of these deaths attributable to prescription drugs
- Connecticut was one of 29 states in which the number of fatal drug overdoses exceeded the number of fatal car accidents in 2010
Experts theorize that much of the problem here in Connecticut and across the nation can be traced to the mistaken belief that prescription drugs are somehow safer than traditional street drugs because they were prescribed by a physician, and acquired from a pharmacy or lab.
"Young people in particular think `Well, they're prescribed, so they're safe,' " said the director of the Connecticut Prevention Network."A lot of people don't know how harmful they can be."
In addition, experts believe that the widespread availability of drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone are contributing to their high abuse rates. Indeed, the TFAH report determined that prescription painkiller sales more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.
It wasn't all bad news in the TFAH report, however, as it also indicated that the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs dropped nearly one million from 2010 to 2011. Furthermore, many states are actively taking steps to combat the problem, including installing drug take-back boxes at police stations and creating prescription monitoring programs for physicians and pharmacists.
In fact, the report gave Connecticut a score of 8 out of 10 for its strategies currently in place to prevent prescription drug abuse.
If you've are under investigation for or are already facing drug charges -- possession, distribution, trafficking -- it's imperative to consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about your rights and your options.
Source: The Connecticut Post, "Prescription drug abuse dangerous, even fatal," Amanda Cuda, Oct. 12, 2013