In what is becoming a disturbing trend, more people die from prescription drugs than illegal drugs each year in the US. It may appear to be nothing other than a fictitious fabrication with little more purpose than to cause a stir on social media sites, but this is a true and worrying trend that really needs the attention of everyone, simply because it can affect anyone.
One of the defining wars that governments all around the globe have been almost united against, is the war on drugs. The insidious death trade of narcotics have killed many people, and destroyed lives beyond those who have become addicted to their lure. Their impact is far more widespread and reaching than just the addict and dealers, the illegal drugs impact society on a whole. The deaths of those caught in the vice-like grip of their addiction affect their families and friends. Even before death, the havoc they wreak can tear families apart. The sheer desire for a hit leads to other crimes such as theft and prostitution, which significantly impacts on the whole of society. In extreme cases, homicide is also part of this evil trade. The war on drugs, even though it is a losing one, continues to this very day, with some countries even carrying the death penalty for dealers.
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On the other side of the coin sit those who manufacture and sell legal drugs, the ones that are supposed to be of benefit to the consumer. These drugs, which are tested and approved for use under strict guidelines, help society. One only needs to experience pain or suffer from an asthma attack to realize just how good these legal drugs are. So it would probably come as a surprise to discover that more people die from prescription drugs than illegal drugs each year in the US.
Before you cast this aside as being a rubbish claim, cast your mind back over the years and try and recall some famous celebrity overdoses from prescription drugs. There was Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith in recent years. Before them, there were the untimely deaths of Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe. All of these celebrities passed away because of prescription drugs. Of course these are just a few of the notable deaths from prescription drugs, and there are many more. So the question remains, why do more people die from prescription drugs than illegal drugs each year in the US?
The biggest group of prescription drugs that are responsible for this alarming statistic are the opioid painkillers. Some of the drugs that use opioids are OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone, all of which are very dangerous drugs if not used correctly. These kind of drugs account for more deaths than heroin and cocaine every year alone. But there are other prescription drugs that can cause death that aren’t in the same class as the opioids. These can be sedatives, antidepressants, and even common paracetamol. But by far the biggest concern is the incorrect, and sometimes fatal use of the opioid prescriptions.
However, it hasn’t always been this way. The rise, well really dramatic rise in the trend that has now seen more people die from prescription drugs than illegal drugs each year in the US, is a recent one. Since 1999, there has been a 300 percent increase in the most powerful painkillers, such as Vicodin, and this has correlated with an increase in drug related deaths. In 2008, these kind of drugs were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths, which was more than heroine and cocaine combined. By 2009, the number of admissions to emergency wards due to this misuse had reached over 475,000. By 2010, more than 12 million Americans had reported using prescription drugs nonmedically. The nonmedical use means that they were not used for their intended use, or without a prescription.
While this is certainly a worrying trend, it should not dissuade anyone from using the prescription drugs. The obvious rule is to only use them as directed and to report any ill effects to your treating doctor.
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