The drug addiction epidemic in America has a much different face than the one it wore in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when meth, cocaine, crack, and heroin destroyed many families.
These days, when someone says “drug problem”, before you picture the illicit street drugs, keep in mind the quickest rise in drug abuse and addiction is now coming from what may already be in your home: prescription drugs.
Getting the Prescription Drugs = A Full Time Job
Addicts gain access to opiate based drugs by any means necessary. Users will get them off the street from drug dealers, or even steal them from their own family member’s medicine cabinets. But one of the most popular new ways to get access to prescription drugs is often perfectly legal.
In Florida and some other states, prescription drug abuse is being fostered right inside medical clinics. Addicts have found that the lax regulations allow them access to legal prescriptions for painkillers, and hop from clinic to clinic to get their high. Due to the unique rule in Florida that allows pain clinics to also dispense the medications like a pharmacy, tracking a patient’s history and preventing abuse from happening is very difficult. And of course, it is big business for those running the clinics. In Broward county, for example, there are more places to get OxyContin than places you can get an Egg McMuffin.
In just over a year, southern Florida has seen more than a doubling of the number of pain clinics offering prescriptions filled in-house. The sheer number of these pill-dispensing clinics makes it attractive for drug runners from other states such as Kentucky and Ohio. People come to Florida, get their prescriptions, and return to sell the pills as drug dealers back home.
Parents especially should be paying close attention to their children. In Las Vegas alone, there were over two dozen cases of students caught with prescription drugs in 2007. By 2008, that amount doubled. Now, there are around 200 cases every year.
If you suspect your child of abusing prescription drugs, here are some signs to look for. With most drugs, classic signs are:
• attendance issues at school or work
• finding money missing or prescription bottles being moved
• pills missing
• mood swings
• changing friends
For depressants such as Valium or Xanax, your child may show these signs:
• Seemingly to be in a drunken state
• be overly sleepy
• become unusually clumsy
• have slurred speech
If you do suspect that your child is using prescription drugs, seek addiction treatment help immediately. Prescription drugs can cause permanent damage, and even death. Over 20,000 people a year die from prescription drug abuse.