Friday, November 5, 2010
Prescription drug use has become a major problem in Southern California, especially in the San Diego area with a number of overdoses. When someone overdoses or when drugs and alcohol are involved in a person's death the San Diego County Medical Examiner gets brought in, and apparently the have become more busy in the last few years with prescription drug unintentional overdoses. In the past ten years the number drug related deaths have increased by 85 percent according to Dr. Jonathan Lucas the County's deputy medical examiner. Unbelievably, "alcohol and medication-related deaths have actually surpassed motor vehicle fatalities, and have become the number one cause of non-natural deaths in the county," Lucas said.
Second only to heart disease prescription drug overdoses took over 400 people's lives just in the last year clearly making this problem an epidemic of sorts. "The numbers, given a population of 3.2 million people, may not seem like a real big number, but you're still talking about 400 people dying," Lucas stated. "That's four times the number of homicides we see every year in this county." These deaths are only the surface of a major problem, E.R. visits for prescription drug use doubled between 2004-2008 according to the Center for Disease Control. A government study that was conducted recently claims that between 1998 and 2008, the number of people treated for prescription drug addiction jumped by 400 percent. Oxycontin, Vicodin, fentanyl, morphine are the drugs that are mostly related with overdoses.
Prescription drug use is a major problem and doctors are prescribing addictive and potentially lethal narcotics far too often and many times to people who do not require them. In the early 1990's the Joint Commission, the agency that regulates hospitals, mandated health care providers to better diagnose and treat chronic pain; in response pharmaceutical companies began making more and more types of pain killers and doctors wrote more prescriptions. "And in our well-meaning intentions, of relieving pain in patients, which we're very capable of doing, we have caused more addiction potential, and more quantities of the drug to be in society now, that can get into the wrong hands and be abused," said E.R. Dr. Richard Clark from the UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.