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The abuse of painkillers knows no borders.

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[As seen in www.semana.com, Wednesday November 2, 2011]

100 people die every day because of an overdose in the United States and most of these overdoses occur with drugs that require a prescription.

These substances prescribed are causing more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. It is a problem that has reached epidemic levels, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in that country. And the drugs that are causing the most damage are painkillers that are prescribed for pain, especially those containing opioids such as codeine and morphine , says the agency. There is “widespread abuse and misuse” of prescription drugs, the study says. One in 20 people aged 12 years or more in that country, about 12 million, used these drugs in a non-medical, that is, without a prescription or just for the effect of “being placed” they cause. And 15,000 people die each year because of an overdose with them, says the study. For heroin overdose cocaine and 4,000 people die annually in the United States. As noted by the CDC, is “a public health epidemic.” Opioid analgesics work on receptors in the brain to reduce pain perception and at the same time create a feeling of euphoria. But they can also have a sedative effect. The substances can lead to dependence and abuse leads to increasingly larger doses to achieve the effect of euphoria and reduce withdrawal symptoms. These increasingly large doses can cause shortness of breath, loss of consciousness and death from overdose.

Abuse and misuse
“We have a serious problem in America because of opioid analgesics that are prescribed for an individual but they are used improperly,” he told the BBC Tom Skinner, spokesman for the CDC.”We’re talking about drugs prescribed for pain relief but are misused by the person it was prescribed or a person who consumes the drug was prescribed to another person.” As explained by the CDC spokesman, although there are certain showing population groups most likely to abuse or have an overdose of painkillers, in reality the problem is occurring in a broad spectrum of society.”individuals affects both white and middle and upper class individuals living below the line of poverty. “For example, many more men than women die from an overdose of painkillers and the highest proportion of cases is among middle-aged adults. Also, overdoses occur more frequently-twice-in the rural counties than in large cities. And the whites and Native Americans are more likely to overdose with these drugs than blacks or Hispanics. “But one of the most exceptional statistics of this report is the amount of money that is costing this problem health service in the U.S.,” said Tom Skinner. ” It is estimated that the abuse of opioid analgesics costs insurers about U.S. $72,500 million annually in direct costs of health, “he adds. 

Too many recipes
Official figures indicate that the sale of these drugs pharmacies and health clinics have increased over 300% since 1999. This reflects the requirements of such drugs have also increased dramatically. According to the CDC the number of medicines prescribed last year was enough to keep medicated every American citizen for a month.As stated by the CDC official, if established new health policies could reverse these trends. “We have a problem with the way they prescribe these drugs, which is inappropriate and that is allowing access to these substances, “says Tom Skinner. “We found that a small proportion of U.S. doctors are responsible for much of the problem.” “So we could establish monitoring systems to identify and take action against improper issuance of prescriptions.” “We could also find ways to ban an individual go to multiple pharmacies to get drugs that are prescribed.” “No doubt there are many things we can do to combat this problem” said CDC spokesman.

 

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