Prescription drug abuse is a deadly problem - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Prescription drug abuse is a deadly problem

Prescription drug abuse is a growing and deadly problem.

In 2009, more people died from prescription drug overdoses than car crashes.

And the biggest dangers are pain killers.

Since prescription drugs are not street drugs, some people do not think they come with the same risk, but they are.

Gary Phillips, owner of Phillips Pharmacy in Albany, fills prescriptions everyday, but sometimes he refuses to fill certain ones.

"I offer a gateway for dangerous drugs out into the community so it is very important that I try to look between the lines," says Gary Phillips, Phillips Pharmacy Owner.

The centers for Disease Control report shows more than 36,000 people died in car accidents in 2009, while more than 37,000 died from accidental drug overdoses.

"It affects their breathing, these medications act in the brain, they shut down respiratory response and they begin to breath very shallow to the point where they are not breathing at all," says Phillips.

Opioid drugs, commonly prescribed to relieve pain, are the most common source of drug overdose deaths.

"You get a euphoric, a general feeling of, it is a pleasant feeling, a calm feeling," says Phillips.

"When they crush the tablets it breaks up the coating on the outside which makes it a slow release and they get the full dosage of the medication," says Steve Ebel, EMS Shift Supervisor.

Phillips attributes the abuse of prescription drugs to accessibility.

"Family members can get them from other family members, they are quote legal, but they are still very dangerous drugs and we are seeing the consequences of it," says Phillips.

Phillips says since prescription drugs aren't street drugs, people think they don't have the same risks.

"Predominantly it is accidental, they just want the high, they just don't realize what the high is going to get them, which is death," says Ebel.

Vicodin and Oxycontin were among the most commonly abused drugs.

Phillips says a general rule, when you take prescriptions, you should take the least amount of medication that will achieve the results discussed with your doctor.

Starting October 1st, doctors will have to write prescriptions on a security prescription pad to try to keep people from writing fake ones.

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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