Among 12- to 25-year-olds only alcohol and marijuana are abused more than prescription drugs, according to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, a network of more than 5,000 community coalitions. Curbing the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is difficult. “It’s the fact that these medicines are legal that makes it very challenging,” said Arthur Dean, CADCA chairman and chief executive officer. “These medicines are found in most household medicine cabinets, so therefore young people believe that they are safe. … Young people think they are safer than illegal drugs, and they are not.” “These medicines are found in most household medicine cabinets, so therefore young people believe that they are safe. … Young people think they are safer than illegal drugs, and they are not.” Arthur Dean, CADCA chairman and CEO Early indications are that efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse may be working.
Last week, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that in 2012, the latest year data are available, the number of deaths from prescription painkillers dropped 5% to 16,007. Similarly, the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the number of people who abuse prescription drugs had dropped to 6.5 million from 6.8 million in 2012. However, those numbers are still more than double the number of people who report using heroin, cocaine and hallucinogens combined. So advocates have every intention of doing everything they can to keep those trends headed in the right direction. On Monday, CADCA will host its annual Twitter chat focusing on the problem of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.
The chat comes just a few weeks after the Drug Enforcement Administration made it much easier for people to dispose of unused prescription drugs at places such as pharmacies in their communities. Police and fire departments nationwide have installed drop-off containers. Parents are becoming more aware of the need to keep a vigilant eye on their medicine cabinets.
After the death of her son, Dorothy Rhodes of Ripley, W.Va., created a foundation to help fight prescription drug abuse.(Photo: Jay LaPrete, USA TODAY) Since the death of her son, Rhodes has created a foundation to raise money to combat the problem. And she started speaking out. “I wanted the county to know that you don’t have to be ashamed of what your children do, that good kids make bad decisions, that you can stand up and talk about it,” she said. “We knew we had a problem, and we did nothing.”
Rudavsky also reports for The Indianapolis Star.
The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Office of National Drug Control Policy will hold a Twitter chat at 2 p.m. ET Monday about the misuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. To participate, follow @CADCA and use the hashtag #NMAAM.