The Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic
9/16/2011Prescription drug addiction in the United States is growing at a record rate. According to an article published in the British Medical Journal, the number of deaths due to prescription drug overdoses in the United States has surpassed the number of deaths due to alcohol-related liver diseases and HIV. And the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has said that drug-induced deaths are the second leading cause of accidental fatalities in the nation.
Kay Van Wey
Kay Van Wey
Part of the problem is that patients think prescription drugs are harmless because they have been prescribed by doctors. This is a common misperception. Unfortunately, the truth is that physicians are not being trained on prescribing new medicines, so they must rely on reports and studies published in medical journals, which can be biased.
Over the past decade, medical malpractice lawsuits have been brought against doctors who have over-prescribed highly addictive prescription painkillers to their patients. These lawsuits have held doctors accountable for their prescribing practices, but still some states have seen little change in prescription drug addiction rates.
In my opinion, law enforcement agencies need to bring criminal charges against doctors who recklessly prescribe narcotics without legitimate medical need. Criminal prosecutions of doctors are rare. The most recent and highly publicized case is currently pending against Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor accused of giving Michael Jackson the powerful prescription medication that ultimately killed him.
By charging doctors with involuntary manslaughter, states hope to reduce prescription drug abuse and hold doctors accountable for their actions.
Addiction is a brain disease that can be treated. The thousands of Americans addicted to prescription medications originally took these medications for a legitimate medical reason.
To learn more about prescription drug addiction, read my article entitled "America's Growing Addiction."
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