Us Prescription Drugs Epidemic Essay

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Legal Drugs, Deadly Consequences As law-enforcement officials spend $15 billion a year combating the use and trafficking of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other illegal narcotics, a more urgent crisis is emanating from the nation's pharmacies. According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdoses from prescription drug medication have tripled in the past decade. Deaths from prescription painkillers- a class of drugs that includes hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone and oxymorphone- have reached epidemic levels. These drugs are widely misused and abused. Every year, nearly 15,000 people die from overdoses involving these drugs. The number of overdose deaths is now greater than those of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined. One in 20 people in the United States, ages 12 and older, used prescription painkillers non-medically in 2010. The number of infants born addicted to prescription drugs every year has also tripled in the past 10 years, to approximately 13,500, according to a report in the Journal of American Medical Association. In 2009, treatment of these drug-addicted babies cost Medicaid some $720 million. Prescription drugs have been a major problem for over a decade now. A big part of the problem is nonmedical use of prescription painkillers—using drugs without a prescription, or using drugs just for the "high" they cause. In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year. Many people do not even realize these prescriptions are drugs, and some are much more dangerous that the drugs found on the streets.1 Despite the popular notion that street drugs— cocaine, heroin and marijuana and other illegal narcotics – are detrimental to society, the evidence from various sources suggest that America may be fighting the wrong war on drugs. While street

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