Drug Related Fatalities

September 26, 2011

Television ads, car companies and the US government constantly remind us about the dangers of driving, which causes a staggering number of fatalities every year. However, a recent Los Angeles Times analysis of US government records has uncovered that the number of deaths associated with drug overdoses has overtaken traffic fatalities in the United States. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/17/local/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918

When most Americans think of drugs they often think of cocaine, heroin and other “hard” drugs because of their extreme effects and due to the common knowledge of their dangers. However, the staggering increase in drug-related fatalities and overdoses has been linked to prescription medication, pills that are often used for sleeping problems, anxiety or pain. These drugs, which are often synthesized versions of what most consider hard drugs, can have the same addictive effects. The effect of these insidious drugs compels the user to take more and more of the drug until finally their body is not able to handle it anymore.

While there’s undoubtedly a warranted need for many of these medications, the source of the problem is still unclear. It may be a combination of a lack of supervision and education, or a willingness on the part of medical professionals to prescribe medications that are highly addictive before trying more conservative treatments. No matter what the cause of the problem, it is skyrocketing, and as treatment professionals we are required to develop a constantly evolving treatment plan to address the growing issue. A new frontier in addition treatment, we must be as well versed in treating adult and adolescent heroin and cocaine addiction as we are the newest epidemic of prescription medication abuse.

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