A long-term problem with substance abuse can transform an individual's life in many ways, causing them to withdraw from the people they love or the job they've been devoted to, a circumstance that can potentially inflict prolonged physical and cognitive damage. But, there is another dangerous aspect of such an addiction that is present every time an individual uses: overdose.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that drug-related deaths across the United States have risen in the last year – continuing an 11-year trend of increasing fatalities. Earlier this week, the National Center for Health Statistics released a report that included mortality numbers from 2010. The report revealed that 38,329 people passed away as a result of an overdose. And, in a statistic that emphasizes just how prevalent prescription drug misuse has become, more than half of those deaths were linked to pills.
Painkillers like Oxycontin and codeine were most often associated with theses fatal overdoses, the report shows. As such, it is especially important that parents, school administrators and other authority figures take steps to address the perils of prescription drug abuse – particularly among teens and young adults. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that the intentional misuse of medication – both prescription and over-the-counter – was the most common form of illicit drug use among 17 and 18 year olds in 2010.
The NIDA notes that the increasing availability of prescription pills, paired with a widespread misconception that they are safe because they are prescribed by physicians, may have likely played a role in the growing prevalence of abuse.