News / USA

    US Sees Growing Problem With Prescription Drug Abuse

    Dr. Jacob Khushigian checks on a patient who had overdosed - also showing his computer data base that lets doctors know what drugs their patients already are taking - shown in a Kaweah Delta Emergency Room in Visalia, California, February 2010. (file phot
    Dr. Jacob Khushigian checks on a patient who had overdosed - also showing his computer data base that lets doctors know what drugs their patients already are taking - shown in a Kaweah Delta Emergency Room in Visalia, California, February 2010. (file phot

    U.S. health officials say drug abuse is a major cause of death in the United States and that prescription drugs are a big part of the problem.  Painkillers and mood-altering medications have left many people addicted, with serious results.

    At the Malibu Beach Recovery Center, outside Los Angeles, residents learn yoga and other coping skills to deal with anxiety, stress and chronic pain. Yoga teacher Shannon Scott was once hooked herself on the anti-anxiety pill Xanax and the painkiller Vicodin.

    “Vicodin was a stimulant for me. So I also used Vicodin as something to get my engine going and carry me through the days, and my Xanax would balance me out and bring me down and relax me. But one was to calm me down and the other was to give me the energy to move forward,” said Scott.

    Drug poisoning

    U.S. health officials say that poisoning was a major cause of death in 2008, and that nearly 9 of 10 poisonings were caused by drugs. The so-called opioid painkillers - morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone - were involved in more than 40 percent of drug poisonings in 2008.  The number has more than tripled in a decade.

    That's not news to Mary Ann Gunn, a retired drug court judge who now appears on a TV program called Last Shot With Judge Gunn, which shows the real-life effect of drugs on users and their families.

    “In 1999, the big problem was methamphetamine. And it was a cancer, if you will, throughout our country. And we have addressed that and are continuing to address it. And more and more over the years we began to see people being addicted to prescription drugs.”

    Specialized drug courts work with the addicts to get them into counseling and rehabilitation.

    Powerful painkillers


    Pharmacologist James Adams of the University of Southern California says the expanding list of powerful painkillers is snaring many patients, who are usually unaware of the dangers.

    “I'm not talking about heroine abusers on the streets of LA [Los Angeles].  I'm talking about somebody's grandmother in Fresno dying from oxycodone, dying from hydrocodone, dying from morphine,” said Adams.

    The recent U.S. government data shows the rate of fatal drug poisonings was highest among people 45 to 54 years old.

    At the Malibu Beach Recovery Center, the addicted get off drugs, but it's not easy. The regimen includes healthy food and counseling. Joan Borsten, who heads the center, said it's hard because the drugs change the body's chemistry.

    “In the case of pain pills, the body has stopped producing its natural defenses to pain, and they just have to have more and more and more and more, and finally there's nothing else to take,” said Adams.

    Healthy regimen


    He said that 90 million people have chronic pain, much of it from arthritis caused by obesity and aging.

    “And it's a real tough problem for a doctor because here you've got a patient with chronic pain, probably howling pain, reporting pain at 7 out of 10 or something like that, and these patients know exactly how to get what they want," said Adams. "And if that doctor doesn't give it to them, they just go to the next doctor.”

    He said the solution is using alternative ways to manage pain - losing weight, exercising and receiving physical therapy - and giving powerful drugs only to those who need them. Another solution: a registry of patients being used in California and many other states that lets doctors and pharmacists know what potentially dangerous drugs their patients already are taking.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora