Prescription Medication Abuse in Ohio

According to the Ohio Department of Health, in 2007, deaths from unintentional drug poisoning or overdose surpassed the combined deaths from motor vehicle crashes and suicide. Of all the leading causes of injury deaths in 1999, deaths from overdose and poisoning by prescription drug abuse contributed the least at 369. In 2008 the number of accidental drug poisonings increased 350 percent to 1,568.

Death is Not Uncommon…

Death by overdose from those who suffer from prescription drug addiction is largely responsible for the increase in accidental drug poisonings. in Ohio, the abuse of opioids was involved in 37 percent of all the drug poisoning deaths for 2008. The drug addictions most identified with the overdose problem are methadone addiction, oxycodone addiction, hydrocodone addiction and fentanyl addiction. In fact, deaths from prescription drug addiction were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

Other Contributing Factors

The increase in multiple drug use with opioids such as Oxycontin or Percocet and benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium is also contributing to Ohio’s deaths by accidental drug overdose. One of the contributing factors and current trends in drug poisoning, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, is that half of all prescriptions consumed each year in the U.S. are used improperly. Trends that contribute to the drug poisoning problem include changes in clinical prescribing practices for prescription pain medication, the direct marketing to consumers, prescription drug addiction, deception such as doctor shopping and prescription fraud, unscrupulous providers (pill mills) and the mixing of medications.

Doctor Shopping May Be Responsible

Of all who died in 2008 from accidental drug poisoning, 16 percent had a history of doctor shopping; however, more than 25 percent of deceased females aged 25-44 took part in doctor shopping. Twenty-five percent of those who died from prescription drug poisoning in 2008 obtained prescription opioids through means other than a prescription. Among those who suffered and died from opioid prescription drug addiction, 71% obtained methadone through illegal means.

Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem not only for states such as Ohio but for the entire country. Debbie Ross, the executive director of Florida drug rehab Blu By the Sea
claims that prescription drug addiction a growing epidemic. Ms. Ross states, “There needs to be a serious crackdown on the ability to doctor shop and to operate “˜pill mills.’ People can get help and eliminate prescription drug addiction, but in the meantime, people are dying.”