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Risk Of Prescription Drug Addiction Higher Due To Free Drug Samples
Remember the scenes in TV shows and movies where the evil drug pusher in the school yard offers kids a free sample of his deadly wares, sort of a “loss leader” to get kids addicted and coming back for more? A new study shows how free samples from Big Pharma are being passed out to millions of kids by their doctors, today’s version of those dramatic scenes that could well be contributing to more prescription drug addiction among America’s youth.
The study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that free prescription drug samples distributed to children may be unsafe because they don’t carry the Black Box labels that appear on the regular size prescription packages warning about dangerous side effects and potential dependencies.
The study analyzed an in-depth survey conducted in 2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that asked people if they received free drug samples — and more than 500,000 said their children received free drug samples. This helps explain how prescription drug addiction has become a national epidemic among young people. Tens of millions of kids have been placed on dangerous psychoactive drugs that can lead to abuse.
While many free samples aren’t psychoactive or addictive, many more free samples of easily abused psychoactive drugs are widely handed out to kids. These are the kinds that can quickly lead to recreational abuse and, down the road, other drugs and prescription drug addiction.
In fact, two of them, Ritalin and Adderall, are stimulant amphetamines prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and they both are Schedule II substances. That means they are controlled and monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because of their high potential for abuse. Both these drugs are listed on the DEA web site alongside dozens and dozens of other dangerously addictive stimulants and narcotics. And millions of American children are forced to take these drugs every day.
As almost any high schooler will tell you, ADHD drugs are frequently abused to “get a buzz”, they are traded, bought, and sold among kids, and they often lead to abuse and can quickly lead to prescription drug addiction involving narcotic pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin, or the dangerous benzodiazepine antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs like Librium, Valium and Xanax — the kinds of drugs linked to school shootings and teen suicides.
Black Box Warnings about amphetamine abuse now appears on the labels of such drugs. But one of the study’s authors, Dr. Neal LeLeiko, at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, said that free drug samples are just a marketing tool. “Our study shows that samples can pose a serious and unappreciated risk to our children,” Dr. LeLeiko added.
Like the iconic drug dealer in schoolyards passing out free samples to encourage sales, today’s drug lords, the pharmaceutical companies and their unwitting dealers, the doctors, are doing exactly the same thing.
Drugs of all kinds can be dangerous, because no two people react to and metabolize foreign substances entering their bodies in the same way. That’s why one kid gets high, and his or her friend on the same drug falls victim to prescription drug addiction — or just collapses and dies.
There’s only one real prevention measure, and that is to “just say no” to such drugs. But if you know someone who has fallen prey to prescription drug addiction, don’t hesitate to call a medical drug detox counselor and get some good, professional advice. It’s the best and safest way to begin the journey back to a drug-free life.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.
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