I’ll never forget waking up on the morning of June 19, 2011 and hearing that four people had been shot dead, point blank, in a prescription pill robbery. The massacre at Haven Drugs in Medford, NY was only a few exits from my hometown. Four people lost their lives so senselessly because a madman and his wife were viciously addicted to Hydrocodone Pills (a main component of Vicodin).
Pill addiction can come in many forms. You may recognize it as the guy on the couch who’s dazing in and out of stillness and reality. Perhaps you know it as your roommate who has his or her nose pressed to the counter, blasting away white powder to seduce some extra energy. It could even be that loved one who slips away well before a “problem” is ever even identified. The prescription pill epidemic has ravaged many lives across the nation, but what’s even scarier is how quickly it’s consuming the youth and threatening a whole generation of Americans.
Here is something hard to swallow: The White House’s official website lists prescription drug abuse as a national epidemic, with approximately 106,000 citizens dying each year from overdoses. Yet, many Americans are still able to waltz into any drug store with an easily obtained prescription to fill bottles with the very pills that can consume them into a twisted cycle of addiction and death. True, prescription pills can be very useful to those who truly need them; however, the conversion rate of prescribed pill to abused drug is alarming.
A Monitoring Your Future study that sought to expose drug trends in American youth found that prescription pills are the second most abused drug — only behind marijuana. So, where is everyone getting their pills? The same study indicated that 70 percent are snagging their pills from friends or family through purchase or theft, and sometimes, it’s just on the house. Now, here is where the problem comes into play: 80 percent of those friends and relatives received their pills from doctor prescriptions.
The prescription drug epidemic is far from invisible. It has claimed the lives of numerous talented stars including Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Chris Farley and Anna Nicole Smith. This number fails to compare to the thousands of Gen-Yers who succumb to addiction’s fatal grip every year. Almost everyone knows someone who knows someone who has abused prescription pills or even overdosed. We can’t accept that as a normal trend in society or our generation.
With more Americans dying from prescription drugs than heroin and cocaine combined, the time to act is now. As a generation with the world at our fingertips, it’s our duty to speak out and educate.
No longer can we accept our peers to be jaded by drugs that serve no purpose beyond manifesting addiction and death. The question is how? And the answer is now. If you know someone who is suffering from addiction to prescription drugs, find an effective way to address it. Every day that they pop a pill is playing a game of Russian roulette with their lives.
The most important tool to combat this epidemic is education. Let’s start with social media. Below are hard-hitting facts that easily translate into your Twitter or Facebook feeds — simply copy and paste. By acknowledging the problem and spreading awareness, we can begin the healing process. Even if it prevents one person from popping a pill, it has served a purpose! Share the following facts:
The White House classifies prescription pill abuse as an epidemic. #ThePillPoppinProblem
Prescription drug overdose rates have tripled since 1990. #ThePillPoppinProblem
Around 290 people in the United States die every day from prescription drug abuse. #ThePillPoppinProblem
More Americans are dying from prescription drug abuse than from heroin and cocaine… COMBINED! #ThePillPoppinProblem
A third of the people aged 12 and older who first used in 2009 began by using prescription drugs non-medically. #ThePillPoppinProblem
The US accounts for five percent of the world’s population, yet consumes 50 percent of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs. #ThePillPoppinProblem
4.02 BILLION drug prescriptions were written in 2011. #ThePillPoppinProblem
Since 2008, prescription drugs have killed more Americans annually than automobile accidents. #ThePillPoppinProblem
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