Prescription drugs are among the top five most commonly abused drugs in the United States. Health care providers wrote enough prescriptions for painkillers in 2012 to give every American adult a bottle of pills. That’s just painkillers – not antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, sleeping pills or any other prescription medication.
Drug misuse and abuse caused 2.5 million emergency room visits in 2011. More than 1.4 million of those were related to prescription drugs, while about half of those were related to psychiatric anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills, with the other half being related to opioid painkillers.
Pharmaceuticals account for around 40% of all exposures reported to poison centers involving children less than six years of age.
According to a 2012 survey done by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), drug overdose was the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States, more than those caused by traffic accidents. The numbers do not even include how many of those traffic fatalities involved drug and alcohol abuse. Add to that the accidents, suicides, homicides and other crimes connected to substance abuse and you begin to see how drugs and death are inextricably connected.
Overdose death rates have been on the rise since 1992 and increased by 117% between 1999 and 2012.
Multiple Prescriptions: A Ticking Time Bomb
Combining drugs, called polypharmacy, can be dangerous and even deadly. In the CDC survey cited above, the people who died of drug overdoses most commonly had a mix of benzodiazepines and opioids in their system. These are both depressants, so mixing them is particularly dangerous. Many drugs have poor interactions. According to a report issued in 2006 by the Institute of Medicine, 1.5 million people in the U.S. are harmed annually by medication errors.
Here are just a few drug combinations that are particularly hazardous:
NOTE: The following is informational and does not supplant qualified medical advice or drug warnings or packaging:
- Antidepressants and methadone (or other opiates): Both drugs can slow down the central nervous system. This can stop vital functions like breathing and heartbeat.
- Any combination of painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines) and alcohol: Again, all of these drugs work to slow down the nervous system and vital functions. Mixing them together can cause serious medical problems or death.
- Anti-anxiety medications should also not be mixed with any type of cough medicine containing codeine (prescription) or dextromethorphan (over-the-counter): These mixtures can slow or stop vital functions and create a potentially deadly problem called serotonin syndrome.
- Blood thinners and epilepsy medicine can interact poorly with over-the-counter medications meant to relieve heartburn or acid indigestion.
Those are just a few of the many drugs that interact poorly with one another. It is always important to read all the paperwork that comes with any drug – prescription or otherwise. This will inform the user of drug interactions and help one to avoid dangerous or deadly drug combinations.
Medical Mistakes & Overdose
An unfortunate fact remains, that even if a drug is taken as prescribed, unforeseen problems can occur. For example, the pharmacist may mix up prescriptions and give the individual a much stronger dose than he or she can handle. The doctor may not know about a heart condition or other medication that their patient is taking.
Medical mistakes do occur. They can be deadly. It is important for any patient to do his or her due diligence – even when it comes to medicine. Make sure the bottles provided match the prescription. Tell your doctor every little thing that is wrong – even if it seems unimportant. Finally, do your own research. You can read about any negative interactions medications can have online, at the doctor’s office, and at the pharmacy. Don’t just skip over all that fine print – it’s there to warn and inform the patient.
The hospital is another place where one must practice vigilance. The Institute of Medicine reports that every year about 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur in U.S. hospitals. This means the hospitalized individual or his/her family must ask questions and get understandable answers regarding medication.
Pharmaceutical Companies Target Children
The psychotropic (psychiatric) drug industry, “Big Pharma” for short, makes about $76 billion annually. That’s specifically the psycho-stimulants, antidepressants, anti-anxiety and antipsychotic drugs. It does not include all the other pharmaceuticals on the market.
In America, due in no small part to decades of strategic marketing and advertising, they have managed to get about 50 million people using their psycho-pharmaceuticals.
But their targeting of parents and children is of particular concern to anyone interested in the forward progress of our culture.
The statement that drugs and kids don’t mix seems self-evident. First off, your meds should be locked up. As soon as a child is old enough to understand, he or she should be educated on the facts regarding drugs and alcohol. Assuming that a child will never be exposed to drugs, or that a teenager will automatically make the wise decision based on no facts or false information, is indeed folly.
The truth is that kids across our nation are being drugged on a daily basis and are coached into a drug-using lifestyle from grade school on up (or even before).
As of 2011, ADHD medication was being prescribed to about 6.1% of all American children between the ages of 4 and 17. An analysis of antipsychotic prescriptions among children 2-5 years old done by Consumer Reports found that prescriptions for this type of medication doubled between 2001 and 2007. These are the types of heavy medications normally prescribed to adults for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Now they are being prescribed to children for “behavioral problems”. Even a cursory glance into the side effects and regulatory warnings of such drugs points to the truly outrageous, fraudulent, unethical and criminal nature of drugging children for profit.
Children are also prescribed opioid painkillers for short-term pain conditions like a broken leg, migraine, appendectomy or other operation.
All of the above listed medications (ADHD drugs, antipsychotics, and painkillers) are addictive and can cause serious side effects. They can also change how a child’s brain works as they grow up. For example, some antipsychotics have been found to change the physical structure of the brain. ADHD drugs are amphetamine-type medications and they create a reaction in the brain just like methamphetamine or cocaine. They light up the reward circuits and make one crave the drug if a dose is missed.
ADHD meds, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine (Adderall), are addictive narcotics. They are classified as Schedule 2 by the DEA due to their high potential for abuse and their propensity for bringing about severe psychological or physical dependence.
According to extensive research conducted by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit watchdog group that documents fraud and abuse perpetrated in the name of “mental health”:
Between 2008 and 2013, the number of American kids taking a psychiatric drug increased by 25%, from 6.7 million to 8.4 million. That’s now one out of every nine kids in America.
At the same time, the number of regulatory agency warnings on these drugs has increased by 62%, due to documented side effects that include addiction, depression, insomnia, mania, aggression, hostility, psychosis, homicidal ideation, heart problems, stroke, suicide and sudden death.
- In the United States, an estimated one million children age 0-5 are being given a psychiatric drug.
- Every eight hours, a baby is born with a birth defect connected to psychiatric drugs.
- Every week, a child goes into a coma due to psychiatric drugs.
- Every week, a child commits suicide attributed to psychiatric drug use or withdrawal.
- Every month, four children die from complications and side effects associated with psychiatric drugs.
Globally, about 20 million children are being prescribed these drugs which include psycho-stimulants, antidepressants and anti-psychotics.
Prescriptions & Pregnancy
Any expectant mother is naturally concerned about the environment in which her baby will develop from a fetus into a newborn. The purity of the womb, and all that goes on within it, is of great significance to mother and child.
Anything a mother consumes will get into the baby’s system through the umbilical cord. This means nutrients from food, alcohol, nicotine from cigarettes, and the full impact of medications and drugs all get transferred to the unborn child.
A recent study reported that the number of women dependent upon or addicted to opiates (prescription or otherwise) more than doubled between 2004 and 2014. The study did not differentiate between per prescription use and abuse of opiates. No matter the circumstances, opiates (hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, heroin, methadone, etc.) used by a pregnant woman will reach her child.
Prenatal drug use and dependence can cause preterm labor, poor fetal growth, stillbirth and maternal death. It can also bring about drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms in the newborn, called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Although drug dependence is dangerous when paired with pregnancy, it is also dangerous to withdraw “cold turkey” while pregnant. This is an action that the mother-to-be should go over with her doctor.
Breaking the Prescription Drug Epidemic
Prescription drug abuse and overdose has become an epidemic here in America. There are ways you, as an American citizen, can work to end this public health crisis. You can:
Do your own research. When you or someone you know are prescribed medication, read the fine print. It’s important to understand how the drug could affect you, how it interacts with other drugs, etc.
Work to educate children, friends, and family on drugs. Drug education can help prevent addiction and overdose.
Dispose of your own prescriptions when you are done with them. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a section of their website specifically dedicated to the disposal of prescription medications. Don’t just leave them in the cabinet, dispose of your unused drugs properly.
Get help! If you or someone you know has abused or gotten addicted to prescription medication or any type of drug, get help.
Due to the violent withdrawal symptoms which can occur, no adult or child should stop using a psychiatric medication without proper medical supervision. If you wish to get help or help another with this problem, contact a specialist at Best Drug Rehabilitation or A Forever Recovery who can help guide you in the right direction.
Psychoactive prescription medications can be quite dangerous. They alter physiology and open one up to addiction and overdose. Your understanding of the facts related to these drugs will help you and those around you make the right choices.