Jacob H. Oregon

Prescription Drug Abuse

Talks about the issues of prescription drugs and how easily they are abused

Dear Future President,

In the United States, over 3 billion prescriptions are filled every year. That’s about 10 prescriptions per person in the United States. This exceeds the amount of over the counter drugs sold each year. More than 7,000 people die each year due to illegible or confusing prescriptions written by their doctors, which led to the wrong prescription or dose. Prescription drugs in the United States are a problem.

The government should help regulate prescription doses and refills. The pharmaceutical industry isn’t regulating their business the way they should. In the United States, for every 100,000 deaths from ages 15-65, 13.4 people die from overdosing on opioid pain relievers compared to 3.4 deaths from illegal drugs. In 2010, among 12th graders, 8% of them use vicodin, 6.6% use cough medicine, and 6.5% use adderall. These statistics should be enough for the government to step in. Prescription medication abuse has reached teenagers, and it’s only getting worse.

Randy Turner is a reporter for the Winnipeg Press who, interviewed an ex addict named Jerry. He wasn’t an addict until he had surgery and got a prescription for percocet for the pain. In the article Jerry said, “Eventually drugs took over my life, I was basically the walking dead for 3 years.” Jerry’s addiction arose, and he began stealing prescription drugs from cancer patients and pharmacy delivery trucks. This is just one example of how one little pill can take over someone's life, and it makes people go to great lengths to get their fix.

In 2009, people ages 18 through 20 had the worst percentage of prescription drug abuse of 22.2%. At that percentage, about 1 in 5 young people ages 18 through 20 were abusing prescription drugs in that year alone. Prescription drug abuse is becoming more and more common with teens, too. Ten percent of teens ages 12 through 17 were abusing prescription drugs in 2009. Coming from a 16 year old and knowing that prescription drugs are becoming more and more common, those numbers can’t possibly go anywhere but up.

In America, 43 states have authorized prescription drug monitoring programs. Yet only 35 states have operational prescription drug monitoring programs. Shouldn’t the government make this a state requirement? While (PDMP) programs in the states seems like a solution, it isn’t the only thing that will help this rapidly growing problem. About 7 million Americans have reported use of prescription drugs for non medical use.

These (PDMP) programs need to be greatly improved in order for them to be effective enough to see results.

The United states uses almost 80 percent of the world's opiate supply, while Canada and Western Europe collectively use 15 percent. The remaining countries only have access to 5 percent of this supply. In other countries, opiate pills are limited to hospitalization and trauma such as burns, surgery, childbirth, and cancer and other terminal illnesses. But in America, you can easily get a prescription for opiate pain relievers by simply going to the doctor and tell them your symptoms of pain, and they write you a prescription for whatever narcotic they see fit. It’s too easy, I have witnessed this firsthand from my family members, and I’m definitely not the only one. This problem in America is causing families to fall apart and put people into poverty and cause them to have a nasty addiction. It’s causing children to think it’s okay to take these opiate pills because they witness it firsthand and they don’t know any better.

If it’s this easy for these pills to be prescribed and accessed in the common household, shouldn’t they be more regulated? In order to be prescribed these medications, extensive medical examination should be required. Lower doses and quantities should be prescribed. Also, more frequent checkups should be done to ensure the patient needs the medication is prescribed. The pharmaceutical industry needs to be under more control. It shouldn’t just be a business it should be there to help people. It should be treated as a tool and not as a business.

So my final question for you, Mr. or Mrs. Future President, is are prescription pills as big of a problem as they are perceived to be?