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Prescription Pain Pill Abuse Skyrockets

Friday, 16 July 2010 09:23 AM

The number of people aged 12 and older admitted to treatment programs for abusing prescription pain relievers rose by more than 400 percent during a 10-year period, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The dramatic increase in admissions, which rose from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 9.8 percent in 2008, occurred among all segments of the population regardless of age, gender, educational level, ethnic group, geographical region, or employment status.

For example, admissions among men rose from 1.8 percent to 8.1 percent, and the number of women admitted rose from 3.5 percent in 1998 to 13.3 percent in 2008. Admissions of patients with eighth grade educations or less rose from 1.9 percent to 9.7 percent, while the numbers of patients with more than high school educations jumped from 3.8 percent to 12.1 percent.

Another study released by SAMHSA in June found that emergency visits to hospitals involving the misuse of prescription narcotic pain relievers more than doubled between 2004 and 2008.

"The nonmedical use of prescription pain-relievers is now the second most prevalent form of illicit drug use in the nation, and its tragic consequences are seen in substance abuse treatment centers and hospital emergency departments throughout our nation," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "This public health threat demands that we follow the President’s National Drug Control Strategy's call for an all-out effort to raise awareness of this risk and the critical importance of properly using, storing, and disposing of these powerful drugs."

“The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Report released today highlights the significant public health challenge posed by prescription drug abuse,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). “These findings should serve as exclamation points to punctuate what we already know — abuse of prescription drugs is our country’s fastest-growing drug problem, the source of which lurks far too often in our home medicine cabinets.

Reducing prescription drug abuse is a top priority of this administration’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy, and requires collaboration across the medical, prevention, treatment, and enforcement communities.”

“Our national prescription drug abuse problem cannot be ignored. I have worked in the treatment field for the last 35 years, and recent trends regarding the extent of prescription drug abuse are startling,” said A. Thomas McLellan, Deputy Director of ONDCP. “We must work with prescribers, the pharmaceutical industry, and families to help us fight this scourge.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 20 percent of Americans have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical reason.

© HealthDay

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Friday, 16 July 2010 09:23 AM
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