Did you know that more people in the United States die from prescription drug abuse than those killed in a car accident or those suffering from gunshot wounds? According to statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 100 people die each day from the misuse of prescription drugs. The United States, alone, is responsible for 75 percent of the worldwide prescription drug use, which means the chances of prescription drug abuse in the United States is substantially higher than any country in the world. The NIDA reported that 52 million people age 12 and older took a medication for reasons outside of what it was intended. America has a prescription drug problem and Oklahoma certainly is not immune to this epidemic.
According to the state’s Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, nearly 600 of the 788 deaths caused by overdose last year contained at least one prescription drug and they anticipate those numbers will rise as paperwork from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner is processed. Among the prescriptions abused, painkillers such as OxyContin, oxycodone, and Vicodin are the most common. Abusers of the drugs claimed they gained access to the drugs through friends or family; some even admitted to “raiding Mom and Dad’s medicine cabinet.” Prevention efforts across the state need to focus on reducing access to prescription drugs to non-patients and informing the communities of the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Oklahoma just recently had a setback in the prevention of prescription drug abuse. The Oklahoma legislature failed to pass a bill that would require physicians to check an online database before prescribing narcotics. Many top government officials believed this process would reduce the misuse of dangerous prescribed narcotics, but unfortunately this bill failed to gain the support needed to pass. Despite this minor setback, we as a community can come together to fight this epidemic by following a few tips.
- Properly dispose of old or unused prescription drugs. You can utilize drop-off sites located across the metro. www.ok.gov/obndd/documents/TakeBackBoxes.pdf will help you locate boxes in your county.
- Keep prescription medications stored away from children. Locking your medicine cabinet keeps the medications out of reach from children and prevents others from stealing your medications.
- Properly store medications out-of-sight from visitors. Friends and family are the ones more likely to steal the medication from you. Often times, they will see the prescription bottles on your night stand and will help themselves. Keeping your drugs out-of-sight will prevent this.
- Use prescription medications as directed by a physician. Make sure you follow the instructions given by the physician, especially warnings concerning the consumption of alcohol while on the medication.
- Don’t share prescription drugs with others. It may seem very easy to give a friend a painkiller for a head or backache, but the fact is: it is illegal to use drugs that are not prescribed to you. It’s not worth it.
If you have any questions concerning prescription drug abuse or the disposal of prescription medications, contact a prevention specialist from Eagle Ridge Institute at 405-840-1359.