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Prescription Drug Addiction a Growing Problem

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A national study ranks Missouri as having one of the nation’s highest death rates from prescription drug overdoses.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A national study ranks Missouri as having one of the nation’s highest death rates from prescription drug overdoses.

Trust for America’s Health reports Missouri as the nation’s seventh worst in prescription drug overdoses. The study also states prescription drug overdoses kill more people each year than heroin and cocaine combined. It also kills more people in many states than fatalities each year from vehicle crashes.

On a national level, 20 percent of people report having used prescription drugs recreationally.

KOLR10’s Dr. Janette Nesheiwat calls this a serious and growing problem which can lead to addiction.

“It saddens me to see a patient, especially a young person come in to the ER with an accidental or unintentional drug overdose, which can commonly result in brain damage or death,” she says.

2.4 million Americans use prescription drugs for non-medical use. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs after alcohol and marijuana.

The abuse is highest among young adults ages 18 to 25, according to Dr. Nesheiwat.

“Painkillers are a common prescription drug,” says Dr. Nesheiwat. “These drugs bind to the receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. It is very powerful and can create the feeling of euphoria, which can lead to addiction.”

Prescription pain meds can have similar effects to heroin when taken in doses other than what has been prescribed.

Some studies show that abusing prescription drugs can open the door to abuse of other substances and can alter a person’s judgment and decision making.

The addiction is dangerous and can lead to death, says Dr. Nesheiwat.

“It can lead to death because of sedation of the central nervous system which slows down breathing,” she says. “Protect yourself. Never take drugs not prescribed to you and never mix medications with alcohol.”




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