Monthly Archives: November 2010

Accidental drug overdoses shoot up 250 percent in Texas

In Texas, deaths from accidental overdoses increased by more than 250 percent from 1999 to 2007, according to this report from the Drug Policy Alliance. This article from the Texas Tribune reports that accidental drug poisoning was the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths statewide behind car crashes and suicide. Prescription drugs like OxyContin and Xanax contributed to more overdoses than illicit drugs such as heroin or cocaine. What’s more, a mixture of pills similar to those prescribed by doctors after injuries or surgeries was a significant contributor to the sharp rise in overdoses, the article reports. In Houston, prescription drugs were identified in half of all accidental overdose deaths from 2005 to 2009, a trend mirrored throughout the U.S.

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California news station shines light on teen Oxy abuse

In San Diego, Calif., the number of teens addicted to OxyContin has risen too high not to notice – and one local news station is shining a light on the growing epidemic. In addition to the two-hour report “Oxy: What Your Kids Aren’t Telling You,” which ran earlier this week, the television news station KUSI has aired a series of reports and compiled information on prescription drug abuse locally and across the nation on its website. Among the findings: the large number of privileged teens in the area are finding ample supplies of OxyContin in their parents’ medicine cabinets, and 28 percent of young people booked in San Diego Juvenile Hall in 2009 admit to prescription drug abuse, according to this article from KUSI. The story is being echoed throughout the U.S.: this survey from The National Center of Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University reports that 8.7 million teenagers reported being able to access prescription drugs within a day.

To view “Oxy: What Your Kids Aren’t Telling You,” go here.

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Pill abuse among teens rampant in California Bay Area

Abuse of prescription medications – primarily OxyContin – is on the rise among teenagers in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to this report by ABC 7 News. San Ramon resident April Rovero, who founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse after her son, Joey, died in December 2009 from a lethal combination of alcohol and misused prescription medication, tells the news channel Joey was prescribed what abusers call “the holy trinity:” OxyContin for severe pain, Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, and Soma, a muscle relaxant. Meanwhile, a teen addict says he quickly graduated from popping Oxys at so-called “Skittle Parties” – in which teens raid their parents’ medicine cabinets and dump all the pills in a bowl to be taken like candy – to shooting heroin because it offered the same high at a more affordable price.

NCAPDA is hosting a video contest to help build community awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Learn more here.

Watch Rovero speak on her son’s death and the dangers of prescription drug abuse here.

Listen to Rovero speak about opiate abuse here and here.

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Medicine Chest Challenge aims to boost awareness of teen drug abuse

This Saturday will mark the first American Medicine Chest Challenge, a national campaign to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse among teenagers and provide for the safe disposal for unused and unwanted pills. Taking place less than two months after the first National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Sept. 21, the AMCC is a five-step initiative that will work with local communities in 36 states to organize drop-off locations and provide information on safe prescription drug use, according to this release. Unlike the Sept. 21 event which was sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the AMCC is backed by an alphabet soup of advocacy groups representing major pharmaceutical companies, as well as generic and over-the-counter drug manufacturers – including Purdue Pharma, maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin. The initiative is based on Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey, which took place November 2009 and received recognition from the 2010 Drug Strategy from the U.S. National Drug Control Policy earlier this year.

To find a drop-off location in your community, go here.

Read about the DEA sponsored Prescription Drug Take-Back Day here.

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Oxy maker draws fire for winning award

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has drawn criticism for being handed an award for its commitment to keeping Connecticut’s youth “safe, successful and drug-free.” The Connecticut Governor’s Prevention Partnership apparently honored Purdue on Oct. 20 for its “dedication to making a real difference in keeping Connecticut’s youth off drugs,” according to this article. The award has come under fire from activist Marianne Skolek, who puts it bluntly: “Purdue Pharma keeping youth safe – give me a break.”

For those parents who have lost children to OxyContin due to the “criminal marketing” by the company “who will have empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table this month,” Skolek lists the relevant telephone numbers to “express outrage at any reward given to Purdue.” (Those numbers are reproduced below).

Similarly, Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn To Cope, a support group for parents and family members dealing with a loved one addicted to heroin, OxyContin and other drugs, lambasted the move.

“It’s despicable, immoral, and a sad day for Connecticut and the entire country when a governor gives an award to a company that should have been shut down after what they admitted to,” Peterson said, referring to the $634.5 million fine Purdue Pharma paid out in 2007 to settle charges that it misled doctors and the public about OxyContin’s dangers.

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Rural teens more likely to abuse prescription drugs

A new study has found that teenagers living in rural areas are 26 percent more likely to use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes than teens in urban areas, according to this release from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. Though the study by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found there was little difference in illicit drug use between the two groups, those in rural areas were found to abuse prescription drugs – specifically painkillers and tranquilizers – more often than urban teens. In the study, the authors say one possible reason for the difference is that it may be harder for rural teens to get a hold of harder drugs such as heroin. Using data from nearly 8,000 12- to 17-year-olds participating in the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the study also found that about one in eight U.S. adolescents reported lifetime non-medical use of prescription opioids.

Find out more about prescription drug use among U.S. teens here.

Read about prescription drug use among Canadian students here.

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Candidate for U.S. Senate tied to Purdue, other drug conflicts

As Kentucky State Attorney General Jack Conway’s bid for the U.S. Senate nears its conclusion Tuesday, his ties to various drug dealings are reportedly being questioned. According to this editorial, although Conway knowingly accepted $50,000 from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators – a program funded Purdue Pharma, OxyContin’s manufacturer – he claimed to put the money to use fighting drug abuse. Another issue that has risen eyebrows, according to this column in Salem News.com, is the fact the Conway’s brother, Prosecutor Matthew Conway, was twice tipped off that he was under investigation for drug use and trafficking by the Attorney General and his supporters.

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Opiate drug use in workplace nearly doubles

Use of opiate drugs in the workplace, such as OxyContin, has increased by 40 percent from 2005 to 2009 , according to data from Quest Diagnostics, a diagnostic testing company. This article in the New York Times reports that while working while under the influence can pose safety risks, many employees may be taking legal pain medications prescribed by doctors, and impairment can be difficult to prove. Last year alone, the rate of employees testing positive for prescription drugs rose by 18 percent, mirroring similar trends of rising prescription drug use in the U.S. population overall.

Read about prescription drug abuse trends in the U.S. here.

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