Prescription Drugs

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Shealy Dunderdale
It is a parent’s worst nightmare for their child to start using drugs and most parents do everything they can to prevent it. However, what many parents don’t realize is that the drugs their children are abusing can be found in their own medicine cabinet. Recent studies have shown that there has been a 40% increase in prescription painkiller abuse by teens in the past few generations and painkillers are now the second most common type of illegal drug use, after marijuana.

This study analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 1985 to 2009, and found that prescription painkiller abuse led to a 129% increase in emergency department visits between 2004 and 2009, a more than 500% increase in the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to prescription opioids between 1997 and 2007, and a threefold increase in accidental overdose deaths between the 1990s and 2007. “There are now more deaths due to accidental overdoses of prescription painkillers than due to overdoses of cocaine and heroin combined,” says  Richard Miech, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado. Prescription painkillers attach to particular sites in the brain called opiod receptors, which carry messages about pain. With proper use of prescription painkillers, the pain messages sent to the brain are changed and are no longer perceived as painful. However, prescription painkillers can he highly addictive when used improperly — without a doctor’s prescription or in doses higher than prescribed. Prescription painkillers affect the brain areas controlling respiration, and when used improperly can cause a severe decrease in breathing that can lead to death. Painkiller abuse can lead to lack of interest, light-headedness, slow and shallow breathing, liver and pancreas damage or overdose. I found this article interesting because in many instances, teenagers may do things to go along with the crowd, or because it’s the “cool” thing to do....
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