Identifying the Economic and Human Consequences of Prescription Opiate Abuse
Bunch, Tina Ann
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Prescription drug abuse is our nation's fastest growing health care concern. The nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers is now the second most prevalent form of illicit drug use in America "and it's tragic consequences are seen in substance abuse treatment centers and hospital emergency departments throughout our nation" (Goodale, 2010, p. I). Nearly 1.2 million emergency room visits were due to prescription drug use in 2009, an increase of 98.4% from 627,291 visits in 2004 to 1,244,679 in 2009 (DAWN, 2010). This dramatic escalation of prescription drug use has placed a significant impact on the global consumption of all opioids, the United States (US.) consuming 80% of the global supply and 99% ofthe global supply of hydrocodone (Manchikanti, 2007). Unfortunately, the rising prescription abuse has lead to a national health care crisis, impacting many areas of our society both financially and emotionally. This paper reviews the current relationship between health care costs and prescription opiate abuse. In addition, the paper examines the devastating consequences that opiate abuse has on the individual abuser and their family members, as well as the benefits of attending treatment programs specifically designed to address prescription opiate abuse. In order to decrease the use of prescription opiates, further research is needed to determine whether or not educational methods for prescribers and persons with opiate addiction will alleviate the prescription drug concern.