OUR OPINION: Prescription abuse too often begins in the home

Public service advertising for decades has sought to make people aware of the dangers in taking prescription medications not specifically prescribed for themselves, including stealing medications from their parents or others in a household with medicines in an unsecured medicine cabinet.

Many people have breathed a sigh of relief when those television commercials ended or after reading a print advertisement: “I guess we are lucky that nothing like that goes on around here.”

Wrong.

Prescription drug abuse in Northeast Mississippi is on the rise, paralleling what’s happening in many other parts of the United States.

The North Mississippi Narcotics Unit, a multi-jurisdictional force, reports that diverted prescriptions meds being sold and used recreationally now rival methamphetamine, marijuana and crack cocaine in the number of users.

So far in 2013, arrests for prescription distribution outnumber those for crack, marijuana, meth and meth manufacture in Fulton, Tupelo, Booneville, Pontotoc, Okolona and Amory, as well as Lee, Itawamba, Prentiss and Chickasaw counties, all part of the North Mississippi Narcotics unit.

Staff writer JB Clark reported in his Monday article that agents detect a greater willingness among many people to take drugs that are in a bottle whose labels give the contents legitimacy even when the drug/medicine was not prescribed for them.

A label with a pharmacy’s name, perhaps a physician’s name, and the dosage of the drug professionally written gains legitimacy among those who would take it illegally.

The Office of U.S. Attorneys, a U.S. Justice Department affiliate, reports, “Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people age 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug nonmedically. The same survey found that more than 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain relievers got them from friends or relatives, while approximately 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or from the Internet.”

That and other data suggest that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to prescription drug abuse. It is beyond easy, even tempting, for the owner of a prescription to offer it to a family member or leave the drugs unsecured, an invitation to abuse.

Distributing a prescription drug, even to a close relative, is a crime and can be prosecuted. It is dangerous and illegal, which ought to be a dissuader.

  • TWBDB

    Let’s stop beating around the bush here: pain medications, nerve tablets, etc. are way over prescribed and way over-used even by the people who got the prescription in the first place. Especially, when it comes to the elderly. Half the time you can’t tell if a person is having trouble thinking clearly or they’re just ‘messed up’ on prescription drugs. I’m starting to get really concerned about over-medicating activities in elder care facilities – - maybe a little too close to home.

    • FrereJocques

      So now you recommend that we let the GOVERNMENT second-guess our Doctor’s medical recommendations? Since, in the opinion of 99 and 44/100% of citizens, the Government will screw up anything and everything it touches, I want this like I want a bad case of phlebitis. Can you really tell, or are you qualified to diagnose just by meeting someone, that someone is overmedicated? You know nothing about others’ medical history, condition, or needs. A person may be heavily medicated because otherwise they are a danger to themselves and others. There are already safeguards in place to determine if someone is being medicated properly. For one, the person’s FAMILY should be able to tell if something’s wrong. Two, you can always get a second opinion from another doctor.

      People are already complaining that the Government is too involved in our health care. Let’s not add any more layers to the bureaucracy.

      • TWBDB

        FJ, I’m not suggesting anything to do with the government; ultimate responsibility begins with the patient. I am most definitely stating that prescription medications are over prescribed, over used, and abused. I’m also stating chemical restraint is overused in elder care facilities. It doesn’t take a medical professional to determine that someone is physically or mentally impaired: one need only read the package insert of the medication to get a sense of the expected side effects.