Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic across the United States, destroying and affecting many lives of young Americans. Why do so many people abuse prescription drugs? Many think that prescription drugs are safer and less addictive than “street drugs.” After all, these are drugs that moms, dads, and even kid brothers and sisters use. The dangers are not easily seen, but the future of America’s youth will soon be in severe danger if the problem is not addressed. It will continue to get worse if action is not taken soon. Prescription drugs are only safe for the individuals who actually have prescriptions for them because a doctor has examined these people and prescribed the right dose of medication for a specific medical condition. To fix the rapidly growing issue, I will propose to support programs aimed at preventing drug abuse, to educate parents as well as children about the risks of misusing medicine, and, finally, to enforce punishment for crimes associated with prescription drug diversion.
Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) said about 2.3 million kids ages 12 to 17 took legal medications illegally in 2003 (Banta 2). According to the Anti-Drug Foundation, teens say they abuse prescription drugs because they are easy to get and they think they are a safe way to get high ("Parenting of Teens” 1). Dr. Nicholas Pace, an internist at New York University Medical Center, clarified the sad truth when he said, “It’s a hidden epidemic” (Banta 2). Looking around Auburn University, the problem is not visible at a glance, but it is adamantly buried.
How can this problem be prevented? First, start small. A program in Maine attempted to address the improper disposal of medications ("Prescription Medication Collection" 1). The program was designed to get people to put unused prescription or over-the-counter drugs in pre-addressed, postage-paid pouches and mail them to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for disposal. The effort netted 50 gallons of medications from 52 people from 17 Maine communities ("Prescription Medication Collection" 2). The success was small, but paved the way for a great deal of change ("Prescription Medication Collection" 3). This particular program was funded with a $150,000 grant from the EPA and a matching state appropriation ("Maine Program”12). The support of a program like the one in Maine would reduce the availability of unwanted prescription drugs; which is why programs modeled after The University of Maine's Center on Aging should be endorsed nationwide.
Next, venture towards developing other programs that would tremendously impact the problem. The Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program would offer progress towards the goal of a safer youth (“Harold Rogers” 1). Prescriptions are monitored on a statewide basis and makes for a more simple medical system (“Harold Rogers” 1). In 2002, Congress appropriated funding to support this program (“Harold Rogers” 1). Programs such as this would help prevent and detect the amusement of pharmaceutical controlled substances, mainly at the retail level where no other automated information collection system exists (“Harold Rogers” 1). The program focuses on providing help for states that want to establish a prescription drug monitoring program and states that wish to expand their existing system (“Harold Rogers” 2). The purpose of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is “to enhance the capacity of regulatory and law enforcement agencies to collect and analyze controlled substance prescription data” (“Harold Rogers” 3). The objectives of the program are building a data collection and analysis system at the state level, enhancing existing programs' ability to analyze and use collected data, facilitating the exchange of collected prescription data among states, and assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs...