Prescription Drug Abuse - It Affects All of Us

Prescription Drug Abuse - It Affects All of Us

COSTS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE The National Community Pharmacists Association estimates that the cost of prescription drug abuse is more than $100 billion per year. They also estimate that 40% of teenagers agree that prescription drugs, even if not prescribed by a doctor, are much safer than illegal drugs. Some of the most abused prescription drugs are:
  • OxyContin
  • Oxycodone
  • Vicodin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Xanax
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Zoloft
  • Paxil
MONETARY DAMAGE TO FAMILIES It will be difficult to find a person whose immediate or extended family has not experienced the ravages created by the abuse of prescription drugs. Some of the damage done to families by prescription drug abuse is not hard to measure--the immediate financial costs. At Novus, we regularly hear about the amounts of money that have been spent by families trying to help their loved ones. This money can be broken down into these general categories:
  • Money stolen from the family
  • Money spent on drugs and not on rent, food, etc.
  • Money spent on legal fees
  • Money spent on medical care
  • Money spent on medical detox
  • Money spent on rehab (often a number of times because of repeated relapses)
And where do they get the money? For most families, there is not an unlimited amount of money. Few families have enough savings. The money has to come:
  • From the equity in their home
  • From selling their home
  • By cashing in their retirement accounts
  • By borrowing.from other family members or friends (until they no longer can)
  • From giving up taking vacations
  • From taking second jobs
  • From eliminating dance lessons, school trips and even college for the children not abusing prescription drugs

DEATH There is no way that you can value a life. Below you will read about the raw statistics published by medical examiners. However, even if you have been fortunate enough not to have prescription drug abuse cause a death in your immediate or extended family, you know that it is an incredibly painful wound that, for most, never heals. No parent of a child who dies from prescription drug abuse can ever stop thinking that they could have said or done something that would have saved their child.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS Fortunately, most prescription drug abusers don't die. However, almost everyone abusing prescription drugs is committing a felony. Many abusers go from doctor to doctor obtaining prescriptions for drugs for the same supposed medical problem—a practice called “doctor shopping”. Unfortunately, there are a number of these criminal doctors who pass out prescriptions for addictive drugs like candy--not based on whether you need them or not, but only if you can pay them their fee. Look in the back of the free newspapers you find at grocery stores and other places and you will see ad after ad for these drug dealing doctors. The "business" has become so competitive that many of these criminals are offering discount coupons. Besides passing out OxyContin, oxycodone, Vicodin and other forms of legal heroin, these doctors are also creating criminals. In most states, doctor shopping is a felony.

Now, if the prescription drug abuser purchases these drugs on the street, they are participating in a crime. It is a felony to have in your possession these prescription drugs unless they are prescribed for you--just the same as if you purchased heroin or cocaine. Parents should be aware that when a child takes a prescription drug from the bathroom medicine cabinet or off the bedside table and goes to a party, they are guilty of a felony just the same as if they were in possession of heroin. In Florida, possession of four grams of a prescription drug is a mandatory three-year prison sentence. Because as many as 85% of the inmates in prison are there for drug-related crimes and because the prisons are very overcrowded, many times a person caught with prescription drugs will be allowed to plead guilty to a felony and not go to jail.

Of course, the cost of working out this plea agreement if your child is arrested is likely to be between $15,000 to $50,000. The good news is that your child will not go to prison, but the bad news is that they will likely have a felony conviction on their record. Having a felony on their record will mean that these prescription drugs have either cost them the opportunity or made it very difficult to get into a good college or become:

  • A doctor
  • A nurse
  • A lawyer
  • An airline pilot
  • A real estate agent
  • A school teacher
  • A government employee
  • A member of the armed forces

One can only imagine the grief that a parent feels when a child with the world in front of them finds that this conviction has deprived their child of so much.


Another consequence of prescription drug abuse is the way that law enforcement deals with situations where someone actually dies or is involved in a traffic accident attributable to a prescription drug given or sold by another person. If your child gives a prescription drug to another child and that child dies, more police departments are seeking charges of manslaughter or some other form of homicide, and prosecutors are getting convictions and sending the child to prison. As the police become more aware of the problems caused by prescription drugs, they are testing for the presence of prescription drugs in the drivers who cause accidents. If they find the presence of these drugs and no prescription, then the person may be charged with the crime of driving under the influence--just like if they had too much alcohol in their system. If someone is injured in the accident or if there is a fatality, then the driver may be charged with vehicular homicide. If they can find the person who sold or gave the driver the prescription drug, then that person is likely to be charged.


Each year in June, the Florida Department of of Law Enforcement (“FDLE”) releases a report entitled Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners for the past twelve months. The most recent report was for 2008 and was released in June of 2009.


In 2008, there were 171,800 deaths that occurred in Florida. A death with a drug found in the decedent was labeled “drug-related.” Toxicology reports showed that drugs were either present or deemed the cause of death in 8,566 deaths. In order for a drug to be deemed the cause of death, the medical examiner must determine that the drug played a substantial role in the death. Although the 2008 report acknowledged that there were deaths involving other drugs, tests were done only for these drugs:

  • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, and other Benzodiazepines)
  • Marijuana
  • Soma and Miltown
  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)
  • Inhalants (freon, nitrous oxide and other Inhalants)
  • Ketamine
  • Methylated Amphetamines (amphetamines, crystal meth, Ecstasy and others)
  • Opioids and Opiates (Fentanyl, heroin, Hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, OxyContin, Tramadol, and other opiates and opioids)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)


Here is a summary of what was found:

  • The four drugs most frequently found were:
    • Alcohol (4,070)
    • Benzodiazepines (3,229 including 1,873 Xanax occurrences)
    • Cocaine (1,791)
    • Oxycodone (1,574).
  • The drugs causing the most deaths were:
    • Oxycodone (941)
    • Benzodiazepines (929 - includes 705 deaths caused by Xanax)
    • Methadone (693)
    • Cocaine (648)
    • Ethyl Alcohol (489)
    • Morphine (300)
    • Hydrocodone (270)
The three most lethal drugs (more than 50% of the deaths in which these drugs were found were caused by the drug) were:
  • Heroin
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
If you exclude alcohol, prescription drugs account for 75% of all drug occurrences.
  • Compared to 2007, the number of times oxycodone was found increased 25.6% and there were 236 more deaths caused by oxycodone in 2008 than in 2007. It was deemed the cause of death in 60% of the people in which it was found.
  • Compared to 2007, the number of times heroin was found increased by 20%. Deaths caused by heroin increased by 28% and it was deemed the cause of death in 90% of the people in which it was found.
  • Compared to 2007, the number of times methadone was found increased by 14.5%. Deaths caused by methadone increased by 11.7% and methadone was deemed the cause of death in 74% of the people in which it was found.
  • Compared to 2007, the number of times cocaine was found decreased by 17.8%. Deaths caused by cocaine decreased by 23.1% and it was deemed the cause of death in 36% of the people in which it was found.
  • Compared to 2007, the number of times Xanax was found increased by 29.4% and it was deemed the cause of death in 38% of the people in which Xanax was found.
  • A total of 4,924 deceased had one or more prescription drugs in their system.
  • A total of 2,184 individuals died with at least one prescription drug in their system that was, in the opinion of the medical examiner, the cause of death.


While it is not pleasant, sometimes we have to look at the most distressing facts to really understand the true evil of something. This is true of prescription drug abuse. It is destroying our families--not harming but destroying lives hourly. While the drug companies happily see their profits soar, more of our children die or are permanently harmed. While drug company executives claim that all they do is make the filth--not make anyone take it, families see life savings disappear and find their lives are wrecked by the financial costs of prescription drug abuse. It is time to let Congress and the FDA know that inaction is no longer acceptable. If you would like to join us in our fight to bring attention to this scandal, please email us at and put "I want to help" in the subject line. We are not asking for money but simply people who care enough to send an email once or twice a week. At Novus Medical Detox Center, we specialize in helping people find a cure to the problems caused by drugs and alcohol to safely withdraw from them. People come to us for a safe and more comfortable:

  • OxyContin detox;
  • Vicodin detox;
  • Oxycodone detox;
  • Methadone detox;
  • Heroin detox;
  • Hydrocodone detox;
  • Alcohol detox;
  • Paxil and Zoloft detox;
  • Detox from other unwanted drugs
Please contact us if we can help someone that you know.

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