Prescription Drug Addiction Hitting West Virginia Community Hard

Prescription Drug Addiction Hitting West Virginia Community Hard

A senior police detective in Beckley, WV, told a local newspaper recently that the prescription drug addiction and abuse problem in the southern part of the state is huge - running neck-and-neck with cocaine abuse, and almost overtaking one of the city's most notorious drug trades.

Part of the problem is with physicians who prescribe hard-core, addictive medications too often to people who don't need such powerful and addictive medication. "Someone says their back hurts, and it's, 'OK, here's your OxyContin, Lortabs or Percocets'," the officer said. "Some of [the doctors] probably don't understand what they're doing to society. They're dispensing it like candy."

The detective also said the police are encountering people with legitimate prescriptions for real pain and injuries who later find themselves victims of prescription drug addiction - unwittingly addicted to their prescription drugs.

"It happens to good people," he said. "It's a sad state of affairs."

Across the state, more people are dying from prescription drug addiction and abuse than anywhere else in the nation. West Virginia had the highest fatal and unintentional drug overdose rate in the nation - 16.7 per 100,000 population - during 2004. Since 2001 more than 3,000 people have died in West Virginia, primarily from overdoses involving multiple drugs.

The state medical examiner's office reported 2,758 overdose deaths between 2001 and 2007 - more than 600 in 2007 alone. Adding an estimated 600 more for 2008, the current number of drug-related deaths must be well over 3,000 - probably close to 3,400.

"If more than 600 people died from murders, I'm sure every household would be discussing prevention," said Ron Booker, coordinator of a TRIDENT drug task force that operates in several counties. "People would be talking about environments, how not to be shot, and prevention measures. Law enforcement would increase their activities."

"People are selling more prescription drugs than illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana," Booker added. "The demand is now astronomical."

All across America, prescription drugs are overtaking traditional street drugs in volume of abuse, addiction, injuries and deaths. prescription drug addiction and abuse is striking Americans of all ages, from early teens to seniors.

For people who have fallen victim to drug addiction, the first step to recovering a drug-free life is several days of drug detox - the safest and most efficient being medical drug detox offering 24/7 medical supervision.

Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.

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