Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why preventing prescription drug abuse is important

Over the past week, a few posts focused on what coalitions can do to prevent teen medicine abuse.  Since I realize I may have put the cart before the horse, today's post will explain why preventing teen prescription painkiller abuse is important.  

Prescription medicine abuse is the intentional use of a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed; or for the experience or feeling it causes.  According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, the medications most commonly abused are pain relievers/opioids.  

Prescription opioids act on the brain like heroin does and can be highly addictive.  As a 2013 report on the problem in WA states, "For some, abuse of prescription-type opiates . . . leads to heroin use so preventing inappropriate use of prescription opiates is important." 

Abuse of opioids, alone or with other drugs including alcohol, can depress breathing and lead to death. In King County, the Poison Center reports that oxycodone and hydrocodone (both opiods) are the most common drugs mentioned in prescription drug-related overdose reports.  Prescription opiates and heroin are the top two causes of drug-related deaths in King County.  Since 2009, as prescription opiate-related deaths decreased heroin-related deaths increased.  

Source: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute's 2013 report on King County drug trends.  

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