Testing It Up

Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Emphasized Through Billboard Campaign

Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs come next to marijuana and alcohol abuse in teens aged 14 and above in America.  These are commonly abused because of the wrong notion that it is safer than illicit drugs.

Image credit: 19 Action News

Cleveland city leaders recently launched a billboard campaign against prescription drug abuse.  The billboard aims to direct the community to an available hotline number for assistance, according to a news report.  It also plans to bring awareness to the general public through education, prevention programs, and tools to lessen and improve prescribing practices.

Most prescription pills that are abused are painkillers or opioids, depressants, morphines, stimulants and sleeping pills. Most of these drugs are in the tablet form and should be taken orally.  The abusers pound it and they either snort the substance or inject it directly to the bloodstream.

Prescription drug abuse has now become an epidemic.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is becoming a gateway to heroin addiction, which posts high risks to health issues.

The abuse may be done intentionally or unconsciously.  These are taken for reasons and amounts not allowed and intended by doctors. These have pleasurable effects and can be readily available. One can easily go doctor shopping to accumulate the pills.  It can cloud a person’s judgment and reasoning ability and may lead to unsafe sex, pregnancy, abortion, STDs and vehicular accidents.

Overdosing on painkillers now surpasses murders and car accidents in terms of death tolls.

April 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm Comments (0)

Addicted Expectant Mothers on the Rise in Kentucky and Ohio

Babies born addicted to heroin and other drugs are on the rise in Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio. baby's hand

According to the NKY Heroin Impact and Response team, which has been studying the heroin problem for more than a year, Kentucky newborns treated for drug withdrawal doubled from 2011-2012, from 730 to more than 1,400.

The rate of drug-exposed infants per 1,000 births increased three-fold from 2009 to 2012 at seven Southwest Ohio hospitals participating in the Perinatal Institute Neonatal Abstinence Program:

  • Bethesda North Hospital
  • Good Samaritan Hospital
  • Fort Hamilton Hospital
  • Mercy Fairfield Hospital
  • Mercy Anderson Hospital
  • Christ Hospital
  • University of Cincinnati Medical Center

In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare saw a greater-than-double increase. The hospital’s report to the leadership team of the NKY Heroin Impact and Response coalition shows St. E Edgewood treated 26 infants born with drug withdrawal syndrome in 2011 and 63 infants in 2012.

Dr. Catherine DeFoor, pediatrician with St. Elizabeth Pediatrics in Florence and chief of pediatrics for St. Elizabeth hospitals, said she sees one or two babies a week, on average, with addiction symptoms.

“Some weeks are worse,” she told nyk.com. “One week we had five.”

The babies display all of the withdrawal symptoms of any addict, said DeFoor.

“They’re jittery, crying, sneezing, irritable,” and, rarely, she said, “they can have seizures.”

The babies are kept in the hospital even if they do not immediately show symptoms of withdrawal, and monitored for 48 to 72 hours.

If withdrawal is occurring, DeFoor said, the infants are given methadone to ease the withdrawal symptoms and then gradually weaned off.

January 16, 2014 at 7:21 am Comments (0)

Colorado Introduces New Campaign to Combat Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription drugsFresh on the heels of its move to make now-legal marijuana more readily available to adults, Colorado has introduced a campaign meant to help fight teen prescription drug abuse.

The Rise Above Colorado campaign is being unveiled today (Jan. 15) and will include educational programs and outreach efforts.

Both Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers strongly support the campaign, which aims to present facts to teens.

“We wanted to respond to the changing drug landscape,” Rise Above Colorado executive director Kent MacLennan said. “We will communicate with teens on a science and fact basis. We won’t be preachy. We will present facts in an honest way.”

According to a survey of Colorado youths, prescription medications are easier to get than beer and, after marijuana, are the most abused substances by teens.

The survey was done by Rise Above Colorado and The Partnership at Drugfree.org and it shows that more than 29% of Colorado 12th-graders had taken prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription, a figure higher than the national average of 25.6%. Colorado has the second worst rate of pain-pill abuse in the U.S. behind only Oregon.

The survey also revealed that 42% of teens said it was easy to get prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets.

“It’s easier than you would think it would be,” said University High School senior Amanda Hill, speaking about how many students in the Greeley area obtain prescription medications.

Hill is part of Rise Above Colorado’s teen advisory council, a group of youths who will help spread information about prescription drug abuse.

The nonprofit program will work with The Partnership at Drugfree.org, a nationwide program addressing adolescent substance abuse.


January 15, 2014 at 7:39 am Comments (0)

Dozens of High School Students Arrested in Massive California Drug Sting

A drug sting that lasted a full school semester resulted in the arrest of two dozen Southern California high school students, Dec. 12, for allegedly selling drugs at school.

Photo courtesy of Victor Casale on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Victor Casale on Flickr

Two police officers, a male and a female, posed as 11th graders this past semester, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and gathered enough evidence to arrest 23 juvenile students and two adult students at Perris High School in Perris, CA and Paloma Valley High School in Meniffee, CA.

The underage students were taken to juvenile hall, while the adult students, 18-year-old Serina Ramirez and 19-year-old Erick De La Cruz of Perris High School, were taken to a detention center.

The students allegedly sold marijuana, cocaine, crack, meth, hashish and various prescription pills.




December 16, 2013 at 7:38 am Comments (0)

Oxycodone the Preferred Drug of Choice Among Prescription Drug Abusers

prescription opioidsOpioid painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone are the preferred drugs of prescription drug abusers, according to a nationwide survey.

Oxycodone was favored by 45% of prescription drug abusers and hydrocoone preferred by another 30% of the more than 3,500 people in 160 different drug treatment centers questioned for the survey, which was done by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Nova Southeastern University in Miami. The research is published in the current issue of the journal PAIN.

When prescribed, these medications are to be taken orally, but 64% of oxycodone abusers and just over 25% of hydrocodone abusers preferred to crush the tablets and inhale the drug. About one fifth of oxycodone abusers reported that they dissolved the drug in water and injected it. Less than 5% reported taking hydrocodone intravenously.

Oxycodone was attractive to those who enjoy taking risks and prefer to inject or snort drugs to get high, such as young, male drug users, while hydrocodone is the more popular choice among women, older people, people who don’t want to inject drugs and those who prefer to get their drugs from a doctor or friend rather than a drug dealer.

“Opioids are prescribed to treat pain, but their misuse has risen dramatically in recent years,” said principal investigator Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, a Washington University researcher who studies prescription drug abuse. “Our goal is to understand the personal characteristics of people who are susceptible to drug abuse, so we can detect problems ahead of time.”

Oxycodone is commonly sold under brand names such as OxyContin and Percocet. Hydrocodone is the chemical name for the opioid in the drug sold as Vicodin, among other brand names.

December 2, 2013 at 7:00 am Comments (0)

Chicago Considering Lawsuit Over Painkillers

Photo courtesy of Edward Stojakovic on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Edward Stojakovic on Flickr

The City of Chicago is mulling over a possible lawsuit against the makers of opioid painkillers, according to a court filing.

The potential lawsuit would focus on whether the drugs’ manufacturers overstated their benefits and understated their risks, specifically the risk of addiction.

In a statement, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Roderick Drew, confirmed the inquiry.

“As part of its ongoing efforts to protect Chicago taxpayers, the city conducts reviews concerning allegations of misconduct on the part of city suppliers,” Drew said in a statement. “This subpoena is part of those ongoing efforts.”

Endo Pharmaceuticals and the Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit of Johnson & Johnson are among the drug makers being investigated by an outside class-action law firm hired by the city, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.

The inquiry by the law firm aims to determine whether companies deceptively promoted opioids as safe and effective for treating chronic pain despite a lack of evidence to support those claims.

It is also examining whether opioid producers, which paid professional medical organizations and other groups to promote use of the drugs, understated the medications’ risk of addiction and other side effects.

Any potential lawsuit could face serious challenges, as the medications in question were approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective.

Prescription painkillers are now the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the United States and are involved in about 17,000 overdose deaths annually.


November 20, 2013 at 7:16 am Comments (0)

National Drug Take Back Day Receives 324 Tons of Unwanted Medicine

Here’s a bit of good news on preventing prescription drug abuse: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported through its Public Affairs desk that close to 650 thousand pounds of expired and unused medications were turned over to their custody last October 26 as part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

prescription drugsThe annual affair started in 2010, and provided people with a venue to dispose of their unused medicines properly. This year, a total of 5,683 stations were installed to receive the influx of unwanted drugs from concerned citizens. The DEA recorded this year’s collected figure at 647,211 pounds or 324 tons, the largest amount in 4 years.

Michele Leonhart, administrator of the DEA, expressed gratitude to those who supported the campaign. “The American people have once again responded to the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event, and we thank them for participating in this effort to battle prescription drug abuse,” Leonhart said.

The Drug Take-Back Day was spearheaded by the Justice Department agency, as part of its move to support Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which does not stipulate how unused medications like painkillers and sedatives should be thrown away. Flushing these drugs down the drain may result in leaching of the killer substances into the water stream, while pills thrown in the trash may still be extracted by people who want to use or sell them.

“While we continue to finalize a uniform system for prescription drug disposal, we will continue to sponsor these take-back opportunities and give Americans the opportunity to contribute to the solution,” Leonhart added.

November 9, 2013 at 12:05 am Comments (0)

American Society of Anesthesiologists Issues Opioid Overdose Resuscitation Cards

CPRYes, the prescription drug abuse epidemic has gotten this bad.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is collaborating with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to respond to the problem of rampant prescription opioid addiction by launching its Opioid Overdose Resuscitation card to identify and treat someone suspected of an opioid overdose.

The ASA Opioid Overdose Resuscitation card lists symptoms to look for when an opioid overdose is suspected and details step-by-step instructions for assisting a person suspected of an overdose prior to the arrival of emergency medical personnel.

The card can be downloaded in PDF format here.

November 4, 2013 at 7:54 am Comments (0)

Study: 10 Percent of Teens Treated In ER Misuse Prescription Medication

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan found that about 10 percent of teenagers sent to the emergency room have been misusing their prescribed pain relievers.

teen prescription drug abuseThe researchers’ study, published in the journal Pediatrics, involved more than 2,000 patients between 14 and 20 years old treated in the Michigan university’s emergency department from 2010 to 2011. The study revealed that 10.4 percent of the respondents admitted to misuse of painkillers and other sedatives, as reported in Psych Central.

This finding is considered alarming, judging from the fact that it’s the first time that this kind of research has been conducted, despite the well-known standard that ER doctors are prescribing pain medication to most of the patients that they are treating. Ironically, it’s the emergency room that has been receiving cases of prescription drug abuse, which has reached about 100 fatalities a day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Study lead author Dr. Lauren Whiteside recommends that emergency rooms become the first line of screening for possible cases of prescription drug abuse, so that early intervention can be done. “These patients are often using the emergency department for their medical care, not primary care settings… So, in order to curb this problem and address overdose and addiction, the (emergency department) is a good place to start,” Dr. Whiteside said.

She added that the issue is confounding, since it is the ER doctor who is prescribing the pain meds. “It’s a really difficult thing to tackle and requires a multipronged effort,” according to Whiteside.

October 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm Comments (0)

Doctors Who Refuse to Prescribe Painkillers to Drug Addicts Suffer from Poor Patient Satisfaction Scores

drug addiction in nursesPrescription drug addicts who cannot procure prescriptions from some doctors have found a way to punish those doctors in the form of poor patient satisfaction scores.

These patient satisfaction scores play a role in such things as the hiring, firing, promotion and compensation of doctors, according to an article in The Atlantic. Increasingly, these scores also determine how hospitals are ranked and paid. The Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services has been publishing the satisfaction survey data and has begun distributing funds to hospitals based in part on patient satisfaction.

These surveys are usually given to patients after they visit a doctor’s office, outpatient clinic, or hospital so they can rate various aspects of their healthcare experience like the friendliness, responsiveness, and the degree to which the physician inspired confidence and trust.

And this is where addicts are causing trouble for doctors.

Patients who display “drug seeking behavior” — meaning they go from one healthcare facility to the next trying to get prescriptions for pain killers — tend to fill out these surveys and give low satisfaction scores to the doctors who refuse to prescribe drugs to them.

The Atlantic article describes one emergency physician named Tony who worked in a poor community and who had many of these “drug seeking” patients come to him. When he refused to prescribe drugs to them, he started getting low patient survey satisfaction scores, which contributed to his decision to quit practicing medicine.

Although Tony argued with hospital administrators that satisfaction survey scores from addicts who were annoyed at not getting the drugs they were after should not count toward his overall score, administrators disagreed and continued to count all survey scores the same.

October 31, 2013 at 6:06 am Comments (0)

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