Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic

The Trust for America’s Health (TAH) has recently released a report entitled “Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic.” The report provides statistical data on the “striking increase in the misuse and abuse” of prescription drugs across the United States.  

“According to the report, prescription drug abuse has quickly become a top public health concern, as the number of drug overdose deaths – a majority of which are from prescription drugs – doubled in 29 states since 1999. The rates quadrupled in four of these states and tripled in 10 more of these states.” The rates have increased so dramatically that prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and overdose deaths also exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 29 states and Washington, D.C. An interactive map on the TAH website allows users to compare prescription drug abuse rates state-by-state in 1999 and 2010.   

The report finds that “28 states and Washington, D.C. scored six or less out of 10 possible indicators of promising strategies to help curb prescription drug abuse.” New Mexico and Vermont scored the lowest in the nation and South Dakota scored the highest.  

In order to curb the dramatic growth of prescription drug abuse in the U.S., the report ends by offering recommendations for combating this abuse. Recommendations include improving prescription drug monitoring programs, ensuring access to substance abuse treatment, ensuring responsible prescribing practices, and expanding public education and building community partnerships.

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