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Friday, May 27, 2011

Financial Toll of American Addiction

Addiction is a worldwide issue that affects nearly every household in one way or another, one would be hard pressed to say that that they are not at least acquainted with someone suffering from an addiction. A recent study conducted by the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) found some alarming costs associated with addiction and how it affects our country on a national level. The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society was produced on behalf of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and was the first of its kind in almost a decade; according to their estimates illicit drug use cost the United States $193 billion in 2007.

The statistics were compiled based off of the economic costs in the three following areas:
  • crime
  • health
  • productivity
Bloomberg News compared the cost of illegal drug use to that of diabetes, which a 2008 government study found costs more than $174 billion annually. “This study shows the economic cost of illicit drug use is significant,” NDIC Director, Michael F. Walther, said in a press release. “The study’s finding that the economic cost of illicit drug abuse totaled $193 billion reveals that this nation’s drug problem is on par with other health problems.”

While these finding may seem staggering, there is much that should be considered when assessing this information. Obviously, there isn't any doubt that illicit drug use affects America, costing tax payers billions of dollars every year. However, when looking at these statistics one should keep in mind that the majority of the money spent dealing with illicit drug use goes to imprisoning non-violent offenders for possession or probation violations. The United States' draconian drug laws end up costing taxpayers a fortune and locking people up for their addiction does not help the addict nor America. Addicts need counseling and/or treatment if they are ever going to be shown that is a better way to live, imprisonment only exacerbates the problem.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Drug Related Suicide Attempts

Prescription medications are sending more and more people to the E.R., not for overdoses but for suicide attempts. A number of drugs, especially anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills have a propensity to cause severe depression with the onset of suicidal thoughts which some people are putting in to practice. Suicide attempts rose 49 percent among women ages 50 and older from 2005 to 2009, according to a new federal report prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They found that 16,757 women 50 and older had a drug-related suicide attempt in 2009, compared with 11,235 in 2005.

Emergency room visits for suicide attempts among women of all ages involving:

  • drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia increased 56 percent during this period, from 32,426 in 2005 to 50,548 in 2009
  • pain relievers rose more than 30 percent, from 36,563 in 2005 to 47,838 in 2009
  • cases where hydrocodone was involved rose 67 percent, from 4,613 to 7,715, and cases involving oxycodone rose 210 percent, from 1,895 in 2005 to 5,875 in 2009

A former President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, Dr. Elizabeth F. Howell, told ABC News that she is not shocked by the findings, doctors are relying more on medications to treat both physical and psychological problems while spending less time with their patients. Patients need to be fully informed about the drugs that they are being prescribed, especially when drugs are known to cause suicidal tendencies. Do not let your doctor just write you a "script" and send you out the door to fend for yourself. If you are experiencing abnormal thoughts we encourage you to call a professional for guidance.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prescription Pain Drug Misuse Jumps 40 Percent

It is almost hard to comprehend the exponential increase in prescription drug use over the last decade, fast becoming the number one offender in substance abuse across America. In just about every state the numbers are absolutely staggering, highlighting the fact that our youth are in the most jeopardy. One such state that has witnessed skyrocketing rates of prescription opiate misuse is New York, which according to the city’s Health Department the rate of misuse of prescription pain medications has jumped 40 percent in New York City from 2002 to 2009. What's worse, the trend does not seem to be getting any better, which means it's only getting worse as the years pass by.

Four percent of New Yorkers age 12 and older admitted misuse of prescription pain medicines in 2008 and 2009, The New York Times reports. With one out of 10 students in grades 7 through 12 claiming they had used a prescription opioid for non-medicinal use at least once. The report goes on, finding that 25 percent of the city’s accidental drug overdose deaths in 2009 were related to prescription opioids and the rate of opioid-related emergency room visits doubled between 2004 and 2009 in New York City, from 4,466 to 9,254.

The only way we will ever see a decrease in prescription drug misuse is if doctors stop over prescribing patients as well as providing patients narcotics for routine procedures with limited pain. The burden falls on health care providers. The fact that so many teenagers have access to potentially fatal drugs is frightening and in most cases they are not buying the drugs on the streets, rather they are coming by the drugs in their parents medicine cabinets. Parents need to be extra vigilante in keeping their medications away from their children, under lock and key is the only way opioids should be stored in households with children.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rob Lowe Sobriety Memoirs

A number of celebrities struggle with the pressure and heavy demand of the spotlight, always having to be somewhere and act a certain way can wear down a person often leading them towards drugs. This is especially true for teen pop icons who started in the acting business at a young age, being exposed to older successful actors who are not always the best influence. One such icon is Rob Lowe, in his new memoir, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends", Lowe writes that sobriety and his wife Sheryl Berkoff made him the man he is today: an actor who has not only reinvented himself on television but a man who puts family first.

Addiction affects so many different people from all walks of life, no matter one's status or social standing. Lowe was a member of the so called Brat Pack, a group of up and coming celebrities who were born for fame. While Lowe wasn't the only one who struggled with addiction, he does have an interesting outlook on his years of stardom and celebrity status.

"I say in the book when I was a young punk and you would have asked me what the best thing that ever could have happened to me, I would have said getting a Martin Scorsese movie," Lowe said of Berkoff, 49. "But God had other plans. He gave me Sheryl. And she is the best thing that ever happened to me."

You can learn more viewing ABC News' Robin Roberts' interview with Rob Lowe. He celebrates 21 years of sobriety this week.

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