The term “drug overdose” often conjures up the image of junkies dying in the streets after using heroin or crack cocaine. While it is true that illicit drugs such as these can take lives, in reality, legal drugs can be equally as dangerous and fatal. As a result, the growing problem of prescription drug abuse has led to more and more overdose deaths across the nation. In Southern California, almost half of the drug overdose deaths between 2006 and 2011 can be traced to drugs prescribed by doctors.
In response to this startling statistic, several pieces of legislation are targeting doctors whose prescribing practices may not be ethical. Two important bills were recently signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. One of these would give more power to medical board officials as they investigate doctors who may be endangering patients. These physicians would be required to surrender all records and cooperate fully or face consequences.
The other law reinforces California’s existing prescription drug monitoring system. The CURES program will be updated and fortified in order to support the states’ efforts at curbing the abuse of prescription medications.
How Do I Know It Is Drug Abuse?
The danger of prescription drug abuse lies partly in the belief that because the pills are prescribed by a doctor and come from a pharmacy, they must be safe. It is true that using these medications as prescribed by a doctor is safe and that they are manufactured according to safety standards and contain recognized and approved ingredients, unlike street drugs. However, when someone chooses to ignore the guidelines set by their physician, they are flirting with danger. The habit-forming nature of some prescription drugs can lead to dependence and a habit of drug abuse. This type of habitual abuse can lead to unintentional overdoses and even death.
Prescription drug abuse can be more difficult to detect than the abuse of drugs like heroin, cocaine or marijuana. These drugs generally have no odor, leave no residue, and don’t require any type of drug paraphernalia. In addition, those who are abusing these medications will often give any number of excuses to justify their drug abuse. There are, however, some signs that may indicate that someone is abusing prescription drugs:
- Taking more than the dosage prescribed by their doctor
- Visiting more than one doctor for the same problem
- Habitually losing their prescriptions or medications and needing to replace them
- Frequent visits to pain clinics
- Stealing medications from family or friends
Is It Possible to Break the Cycle?
If someone you care about is caught up in the cycle of drug abuse, helping them to break that cycle can save their life. To learn more about the next steps for giving them the assistance they need to enroll in treatment here with us at Michael’s House, contact us today.