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Prescription drug abuse statistics improve a bit but methadone abuse still rampant in most states
Over the last couple of years, prescription drug abuse statistics have slightly improved – only a tiny bit, and only among some age groups in some states – but it’s an encouraging improvement, the first we’ve seen in over a decade. But as we’ve reported so often recently, methadone abuse is still rampant in most states, and is among the deadliest of all prescription drugs.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs actually decreased a little bit from 2010 to 2011, something like from 7 million down to a little less than 7 million. And only for some age groups. And they may have slid up a little in 2012.
Keeping in mind that we’re talking about millions of Americans here – in the 6 to 7 million range – the effects that prescription drugs are having on Americans continues like an epidemic of plague. The sheer numbers of lost careers, broken families, and sudden, tragic deaths among people of all ages are still in the countless hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. For every 10 people suffering from prescription drug abuse, only one of them actually receives any treatment. And deaths from prescription drug overdoses have worsened in almost all states, according to the Trust For America’s Health (TFAH), the national public health activist organization.
Last October, TFAH published its Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic. This ambitious report provides a complete state-by-state ranking of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population. The death rates were doubled or more in 29 states in the last decade – quadrupled in four of them, tripled in 10 others, and was as high as 6 times in another
The Appalachian and Southwest states suffered the highest overdose death rates: West Virginia topped the list at 28.9 per every 100,000 people – a 605 percent increase from 1999 when the rate was only 4.1. At the bottom of the list, North Dakota was lowest with 3.4 per every 100,000 people. Rates were generally the lowest in the Midwestern states, with the Northeast, Southeast, and Northwest ranging higher.
According to published figures from the CDC, prescription drug-related deaths outnumber heroin and cocaine combined, and exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 29 states and Washington, D.C. “Misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers alone costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion each year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs,” TFAH reported.
A year or so ago, the CDC reported that methadone is involved in one third of all opioid pain reliever overdose deaths, but it accounts for only a few percent of opioid pain reliever prescriptions. Obviously, there’s something really dangerous about methadone. And it’s not just methadone abuse that’s killing so many more people per prescription than other pain relievers. Doctors need to explain the facts about methadone to patients – the lack of the medical facts about how methadone works in the body is what’s causing many of these tragedies.
So let’s get real about the prescription drug situation. When we hear about a slight improvement here or there, well that’s good. But when we take a closer look at these numbers, it’s like saying someone has cut down from 5 bottles of whiskey a day to 4½ bottles, or from 100 cigarettes to 97. Okay, it’s an improvement, but it’s almost negligible. This country is reeling from a prescription drug abuse catastrophe, and there’s no widespread relief in sight. A lot of prevention activities could be undertaken – better education is just one of many. But until prevention catches up with abuse, the only answer is effectively helping those already dependent and addicted. Fast and effective treatment is the only way to cut down on the enormous human and financial losses right now.
As one of the country’s premier medical detox facilities, Novus is in the front lines of the battle, helping turn things around one patient at a time. Novus helps people with any kind of dependency, and is known as one of the few facilities anywhere that accepts patients for methadone high dose detox, regardless of the amount of the daily dosage. Our advanced medical detox protocols reduce methadone withdrawal symptoms and get patients on their way home drug-free in record time.
If you or someone you care for is abusing methadone or any prescription drugs, call Novus and speak to one of our caring detox advisors today. Please let us help you turn your situation around before it becomes one of those tragic statistics.
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