Monday, March 9, 2009

Addiction,Opioids, Prescription Drug Abuse, Risks

We see a lot of different problems at Cottonwood. One thing in common though is that the problems of addiction have caused destruction in the lives of our patients and their families. One recent situation is particularly sad to me because it seems like such an unnecessary waste of life. The details may be changed but the story is true.

A young woman entered treatment here recently for addiction to prescription pain pills. The event that prompted her admission was that she had been at a party with her twin sister where both of them were using a variety of prescription medication including pain pills and sedatives. Both of them fell asleep but her sister never woke up. Their mother blamed the patient for her sister's death and she came into treatment not only with a serious addiction but with extreme guilt and remorse as well. It is a terrible tragedy.

Prescription drug abuse is very common, particularly among those 18-35. In 2007 4.6% of these young adults had an addiction to prescription pain pills or sedatives. The most commonly used drugs are the opioid pain pills Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Lortabs, Vicodin and Methadone and the sedatives Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Abuse of these drugs now are (second only to tobacco and alcohol) the most commonly abused drugs for teens and young adults surpassing marijuana use. One reason is the increasing availability of the medication. Most are stolen from family members or diverted from friends and they are easy to purchase (though expensive) on the street. Another reason for increasing use is that many people consider these medications to be "safe" and are unaware of the high risk of addiction as well as the risk of death if taken in sometimes even moderate overdoses. The use of the sedatives increases the effect of the opioids and raise a greater possibility of creating a very negative outcome.

Prescription drug abuse is likely to continue to increase and I hope we can get the message out that they are not "safe" drugs.

Thought for the day

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone O' Lord make me to dwell in safety

The Psalmist

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