Prescription Drug Abuse in America
Illegal drugs in the United States have been a topic of discussion for as long as anyone can remember. For years we have been fighting a war against drugs and this paper will not reflect current trends of illegal drugs, but will show that the new problem these days in America is prescription drugs. According to state law enforcement officials, “An analysis of 168,900 autopsies conducted in Florida in 2007 found that three times as many people were killed by legal drugs as by cocaine, heroin and all methamphetamines put together,” (David Gutierrez, 2008). Today, not only does society have to deal with the abuse of illegal drugs, but it must also witness people fall into the trap of prescription drug abuse. This can include family and close friends whose lives are literally thrown away. Most people who have had issues with addiction, jail, and can’t break the cycle seem to be drawn to these legal drugs. Some have witnessed the lives of people go from full to nothing and in some cases the abuse was so acute that it meant death. Findings point towards a trend that says volumes about this abuse of prescription drugs. “In 2007, cocaine was responsible for 843 deaths, heroin for 121, methamphetamines for 25 and marijuana for zero, for a total of 989 deaths. In contrast, 2,328 people were killed by opioid painkillers, including Vicodin and Oxycontin, and 743 were killed by drugs containing benzodiazepine …” (David Gutierrez, 2008). It is a serious problem in America and the people pushing these days are coming from our own pharmaceutical companies selling the newest crack. Except it is all legal, prescription drugs and it has found its way to the streets. To argue that the use and abuse of legal, prescription drugs is a much bigger problem than the use and abuse of illegal drugs, the researcher has gathered as many statistics and numbers that point towards proving the hypothesis. This will include focusing on secondary sources where some of the work has been done by prior research. It shows that illegal drug trafficking in the United States has always been an issue. Yet today it pales in comparison to the legal drug issue we have today due to prescription drugs like OxyContin and amphetamines like Adderall. Prescription drugs have permeated the suburban household more than anyone is seeing. Reviewing a prescription drug sheet from the Drug Enforcement Agency gives good insight into the underlying issue. Although the rates are from a 2009 survey, the numbers are still relevant today and show disturbing facts. Seven million Americans aged twelve and older abused prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, this number overtakes the first time use of marijuana. The numbers were up thirteen percent from the year before in 2008. The averages are astounding as to the number of people per day that are abusing prescription pain relievers for the first time. The number of emergency room visits for prescription drugs went up ninety-seven percent from 2004 to 2008. It has also been shown that the number of people seeking prescription drug treatment has risen 4 times over the past decade. Statistics also show that fifty-six percent of teenagers believe that prescription drugs are much easier to get than illegal drugs. The statistics showing that more and more people are acquiring prescription drugs legally. The responses from the children of people who are under care of prescription drugs concerning access to the drugs shows that the trafficking of these drugs is primarily through parents that are using or abusing the drugs via legal means of prescriptions from doctors. Michael Kress, a staff coordinator for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control says, “A huge problem is lack of knowledge about the dangers of prescription drug abuse …”, (Denice Thibodeau, October 20, 2009). The real issue is that the lack of knowledge the parents have towards this...
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