Prescription Drug Addiction & Treatment
Narconon Addiction Treatment Admissions for Prescription Drugs Reflect Rising Abuse and Overdose Problems in America Across the country, the number of people entering the Narconon program shows increases in prescription drug addiction, matching the national pattern of growth in this category of abuse, treatment and overdose deaths.
According to recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overprescribing and abuse of prescription drugs have been climbing. Following right behind those statistics are addiction and overdose death statistics. While a decade or so ago, the main drugs killing people through overdoses were drugs like heroin and cocaine, these days far more people are being killed by prescription drugs – drugs that were intended to make life bearable for people with chronic pain or other serious conditions.
Mirroring this shift is the pattern of admissions to addiction treatment at Narconon drug recovery centers across the country. In the thirteen rehabs in the US that use the standardized Narconon addiction treatment protocol, the common pattern is an increase in the number of prescription drug addicts, as many as half of all admissions at some centers.
“The number of people needing to recover from prescription drug addiction – especially painkillers – has reached epidemic levels,” warned Bobby Wiggins, drug education specialist for the international headquarters of Narconon, located in Los Angeles. “More young people are abusing these drugs as well, so much so that abuse of prescription drugs threatens to overtake the use of marijuana by teens.” Mr. Wiggins cited the National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which reported in that in 2009, nearly a million 14 and 15 year olds had abused a prescription drug at some point in their young lives. This is nearly eleven percent of all children of this age.
“Young people see their parents using these medications and then may see the drugs being abused in television shows and movies. Young people who feel they are stressed or anxious or are just curious or bored may take a few pills for their own use,” Mr. Wiggins explained. “But as the young people get older and have more means and freedom, this occasional use can become abuse and addiction very easily.”
The CDC report reviewed the number of drug overdose deaths in the US between 1999 and 2008 that were related to prescription drugs and then noted that opiate pain reliever use contributed to the largest number of drug deaths. Out of 36,450 drug overdose deaths in 2008, a specific drug or drugs were named in 27,153 deaths. Opiate pain relievers were responsible for nearly 74% of these deaths. Non-Hispanic whites and American Indian/Alaska Natives were the hardest hit, with three times the deaths of Hispanic whites or African Americans.
According to SAMHSA, there were 142,000 people admitted to addiction treatment facilities for problems with pain reliever addiction in 2009. But of all those who need treatment for addiction, fewer than 10% actually get treatment. Of those who did not receive treatment, only about one in twenty felt that they needed help with addiction. The remainder did not see the problem even though they fit the criteria for dependence or addiction. This means that there are probably around a million and a half Americans struggling with addiction to OxyContin, Roxicodone, hydrocodone (sold as Lortab, Lorcet or Vicodin), morphine, methadone, or the many other drugs on this list.
“The solution to this problem is multi-faceted,” reported Mr. Wiggins. “The CDC encourages the states to implement greater controls over opiate prescribing. The public must be better educated on the dangers of prescription drug abuse and there must be effective drug rehabilitation available.”
SAMSHA data gathering also found that in 2008, nearly four times as many of those people entering treatment for the second, third or more times reported pain reliever abuse as repeat admissions did in 1999. This follows the trend of broader prescribing and abuse followed by higher numbers of those addicted.
Mr. Wiggins concluded, “The cycle of addiction is broken when treatment eliminates the key factors that have been discovered at Narconon: guilt, cravings and depression.” At Narconon rehab centers around the world, seven out of ten graduates remain drug-free after they go home, whether they are getting help for alcohol, heroin, cocaine or prescription pain relievers.