States Try to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

According to an article on CBSNews.com, more than 50 million Americans have admitted to abusing prescription drugs. As a result, 39 states have taken steps to monitor prescription drug use, CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts reports.

After hurting her back when she fell off a horse, 33-year-old Amy Hodgins started taking prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. When she injured her shoulder in a car accident, she took even more drugs and eventually became addicted to them. “You name it, I’ve done it,” she said. “It got pretty bad. I was taking 30 (pills) a day.”

Hodgins said she found doctors who would write her prescriptions, but when she couldn’t get a prescription, she would buy pills off the street for $20 each. Hodgins recently checked into Novus Medical Center, a detox facility in New Port Richey, Florida. When asked when she reached her lowest point, she named a few: when her parents had to come pick her up in Austin, when she didn’t have a place to live, and when her marriage ended.

Her detox from methadone was successful and she hopes to stay clean for good. “This is a new beginning for me,” she said. “The end; it’s over. That’s my old life. It’s like I’m reborn.”

Police departments across the country are trying to stop street sales of pills like Vicodin and OxyContin. Members of the New Orleans narcotics team and the DEA recently conducted a raid, rounding up suspected “doctor shoppers,” or those who go from doctor to doctor seeking multiple prescriptions to use or sell.

In Florida, pain clinics are abundant and that lack of a prescription drug monitoring program makes it difficult to track prescriptions. "When the cocaine dealers are turning into pharmaceuticals dealers – that tells you how lucrative it is," said Capt. Karl Durr, head of the narcotic division of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Every year, more than 7 million American abuse prescription drugs, which is more than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy, and inhalants combined. Bill Janes, Florida’s drug czar, says addiction to prescription drugs is an epidemic.

"There’s a perception that these drugs are not as harmful as illicit drugs because they are being prescribed," Janes said.
 

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.