The problem is responsible for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents, according to Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director designee of the Oregon Health Authority
February 9, 2011 -- Oregon’s tidal wave of problems with prescription drug abuse is about to crash in part because too many young people have access to legally prescribed drugs sitting in their parents’ bathroom cabinets.
Mary Ellen Glen, executive director of the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, made that prediction in an interview with The Lund Report. She believes the problem is bigger than the public realizes because official data hasn’t caught up with what’s actually happening on the ground.
Since 2002, the number of Americans aged 12 and older who’ve abused pain medication increased by 20%, according to the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In Oregon, there were more than 1,200 overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers between 2000 and 2009.
, which runs a 24-hour crisis line for treatment referrals, is receiving more calls about prescription drug abuse, said Tom Parker, spokesman. In fact, such calls have risen to the second most called about problem – behind alcohol, but ahead of marijuana and other drugs. Parker said the group is seeing “emerging trends before they show up in government reporting.”
Last year more than 400 Oregonians died of prescription drug overdoses, while nationwide there were nearly 1.2 million visits for drug overdose.
Prescription drug abuse “accounts for more deaths than motor vehicles,” acknowledged Dr. Bruce Goldberg, director designee of the Oregon Health Authority at a recent Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission meeting. “Clearly it’s something that has to be on our horizon.”
He’s asked the Center for Best Practices on Prescription Drug Monitoring Program housed at Brandeis University to analyze Oregon’s laws.
Later this year, drug summits will be held in Pendleton/LaGrande, southern Oregon and Washington County similar to the event in Portland last year
Dennis McCarty, who runs the Substance Abuse Policy Center at Oregon Health & Sciences University, is working on research grant proposals focused on prescription drug abuse.
And, a prescription opiod prevention program is under way to deal with methadone abuse, according to Karen Wheeler, addictions program administrator at the Department of Human Services. “Methadone is the top drug people are overdosing on,” she told commissioners.
The pharmakinetics of methadone make it easy to overdose on it “especially if you’re new to methadone,” added McCarty.
There’s also evidence of a link between opiod abuse and heroin abuse, said Parker. At the Oregon Drug Summit last year, a former successful businessman turned drug addict talked about taking oxycodone after sustaining injuries from a mugging, then became addicted to heroin. He lost his job, his marriage, his house and ended up on the streets before entering treatment.
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