Given the high profile deaths of Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith and most recently Whitney Houston, it’s time we all look more closely at what’s happening in this country with prescription drug use.
When we think of drug addicts we often think of those back-of-the alley, downtrodden, older, perhaps homeless people.
However, that’s not an accurate picture. The face of drug addiction has changed.
If you’re free this evening you can catch program from KCTS 9 in Seattle and InvestigateWest on the alarming increase in prescription-drug abuse in Washington State, doctors who overprescribe, the lack of regulation and how this epidemic is affecting teens, seniors and middle-class families.
There’s a reason for the epidemic and it makes me mad every time I hear it. During the 1990s, the State Medical Quality Assurance Board issued a new directive – they said doctors were under-treating pain. Up until then, semi-synthetic forms of opium such as Vicodin (hydrocodone,) and OxyContin had only been prescribed for severe types of pain like cancer and end-of-life.
The medical community responded in spades and in Washington State daily doses of Vicodin went from 10 million to about 45 million daily doses.
As a result of the enormous increase in use, there has been much more abuse of the drugs and more overdoses as well.
Washington State has one of the highest rates of prescription drug addiction in the U.S. … more than 2 people die in this state every day because of addiction to these powerful painkillers.
The program explores some of the basic causes of addiction as well as lack of regulation, treatments available and the latest efforts to try to deal with this problem. Following the program there will be an in-depth discussion with medical experts, treatment specialists and policy makers.
"Prescription Drug Abuse: Diagnosing Solutions" airs at 7 p.m. on KSPS in Spokane. It’s fascinating and a very important topic. We all need to become more aware of the problems with prescription drug abuse.