While prescription drugs can play a vital role in the healthcare of individuals throughout the world, they can also be life threatening when used improperly or as a habit. For drug counselors, police officers, treatment providers and other professionals throughout the nation, prescription drug abuse is not only a health problem, it is a legal problem.
The state of Michigan recently brought together key players in the fight against the prescription drug abuse issue in a Drug Abuse Summit. Sponsored by the Michigan Office of Drug Control Policy and the Michigan Association of Community Health Boards, the summit was formed in an effort to create solutions for the lack of awareness, treatment and enforcement.
Many states are following suit in developing programs to fight the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. Drugs such as Vicodin are easy to acquire and are often replacing street drugs as the drug of choice for young people seeking an easy way to get high. The problem is exacerbated by teens who fail to see the drugs as addictive or even dangerous.
Prescription drugs are also easy to find as close as a parent’s medicine cabinet. For adults, the Internet is swarming with opportunities to acquire these drugs without hard-copy prescriptions. The growing number of Internet pharmacies and doctors are providing instant access to schedule III drugs like Vicodin, making the problem harder to tackle.
Those seeking a heroin-like high without the needles or cost are turning to prescription pain killers as they often bring on a similar sense of euphoria. Along with the euphoria comes an addiction and classic withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not readily available. The biggest rush is often found in OxyContin, which also poses the greatest risk.
For the state of Michigan, such a program has been a long time coming. Michigan touts one of the highest rates of teen prescription drug abuse in the country with a 182 percent increase in admissions to publicly funded treatment for those reporting a problem with prescription drug abuse since 2002. Establishing a new task force is a step in the right direction, but the state has a lot of work to do.