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prescription drug abuse among women

Prescription Drug Abuse and Moms: We Still Need to Have a Serious Conversation

prescription drugs

Very recent reports indicating that rock legend Prince who died recently may have succumbed to addition to prescription pain killers. In 2012, I penned an article in The Washington Times discussing the dangers of prescription drug abuse for children, moms and even pregnant women and their fetuses. It was later published in an educational book for 7th to 10th that compiled various articles on drug abuse. Here is an excerpt:

Even before children enter their teens, the modern world insistence on medicating children for attention deficit disorder and other psychological disorders has led to children developing a dependency on sedative type drugs.

Among 12th graders, in 2005, 9.5% reported past-year non-medical use of Vicodin, and 5.5% reported past-year non-medical use of OxyContin, according to the NIH Substance Abuse Study.

Sadly, women in particular are vulnerable.

The then director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at NIH, Nora D. Volkow, M.D., testified in 2006 before The Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources Committee on Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Prescription drug abuse must also be carefully tracked among women because of their combined vulnerabilities,” she said. “First, women are more likely than men to suffer from depression, anxiety, trauma, and victimization, all of which frequently appear with substance abuse in the form of co-morbidities.”

Volkow added that “girls and women report using drugs to cope with stressful situations in their lives” and that “studies suggest that women are significantly more likely than men to be prescribed an abusable drug, particularly in the form of narcotics and anti-anxiety medications.”

It is an issue even among pregnant women. A study published in theAmerican Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, around half of all moms-to-be now take at least one medication.

Often times, society paints drug abuse as a problem of the poor, but in fact, affluent and middle-income women and college students are among the most prevalent abusers of prescription drugs.

A 2009 news report expressed surprise that well-to-do housewives and college students were the leading abusers of prescription drugs. It quotedFresno County Coroner Dr. David Hadden who noted that “the ‘it’ pills arehyrdrocodone, which include vicodin and norco, morphine, and now the most popular pain pill of choice, OxyContin” and pointed out that many of the 81 people who died that year “had a cocktail of drugs in their system when they died, like mixing painkillers, with cocaine and methamphetamine, or sedatives and alcohol.”

Because of the demand, prescription drugs on the black market are expensive. On the street, one pill can costs as high as $40 to $50.

The issue is certainly not new. A 1973 study in the Journal of Drug Education spoke about how middle-class housewives were physician shopping to get one that would prescribe drugs.

I republished the entire piece on Medium today and you can check it out there!