On June 25 2009, the greatest performer and icon of all time died with an addiction.  The king of pop Michael Jackson was suffering in silence like millions of people across the U.S addicted to prescription drugs.  Perceived as a safe drug by many because prescription drugs are legal , prescription drug abuse can become unnoticed.  Michael Jackson had fortune and fame , but his addiction to painkillers and  diprivan which is a hypnotic agent that induces sleep is what allegedly took his life.  An estimated 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs which is more than the number who are abusing cocaine,heroin and other illicit drugs combined.  Prescription drug abuse is the most prevalent drug problem in the United States second to marijuana.  http://www.justice.gov/dea/concern/prescription_drug_fact_sheet.html.  Opiate drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone which are also ingredients in tablets compounded with acetaminophen ( Vicodin and Percocet) are causing more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.   Prescription pain relievers are preferred over cocaine and marijuana and teens abusing prescription drugs is a becoming a serious problem at an earlier age. Oxycodone an opiate which is the active ingredient in the controlled release pain-killer oxycontin used for severe pain is more potent than morphine and is usually  crushed, snorted and chewed by illicit users to eliminate the time release creating an intense rush to the brain.  On the street, an oxycontin tablet can sale for a dollar per milligram for a 10,20,40 and 80 milligram tablet .  If used improperly, a prescription drug can lead to accidental overdose or death.  Well you may ask ” How are these legal prescription drugs getting on the streets?” It’s referred to as Diversion .  Diversion of prescription drugs is when licit drugs are used for illicit purposes and this can occur in many ways such as “doctor shopping”, theft from a pharmacy or home, drug dealing, obtaining it from the internet illicitly and taking prescription pills from a friend or relative. Nowadays, drug dealing prescription drugs is a lucrative operation because it is profitable and accessible.  Unfortunately a medicine cabinet which may be safe to store prescribed drugs in your bathroom could be a door of opportunity to anyone including your teenager who is addicted to pain-killers, cough syrup or other drugs.  Anything from Cough Syrup aka sizzurp,  Benzodiazepines (Xanax) aka xaneys or tombstones identified by the triple score, Oxycontin , Percocets, Vicodins and other common painkillers are all prescription controlled drugs , but are diverted and sold illegally.  All of the above mentioned prescription drugs require a prescription to obtain it from the pharmacy.  A lot of teens are abusing prescription drugs and some are even hosting “pill parties” which is a collection of all the prescription drugs they can get their hands on and prepared like a trail mix and placed inside a bowl.   This is a dangerous engagement for the person who places their hand in the glass bowl with no knowledge of what they are putting in their mouth. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-06-12-teens-pharm-drugs_x.htm.  These pills would’ve came from your friendly medicine cabinet , friends , relatives or a drug dealer making a profit from diversion.  Because of this shift to abuse of prescription drugs, parents must make sure that they educate their teens about drug abuse and the effect it has on the brain through discussions and literature.  Storing prescription bottles in a location that is not easily accessible to children or adults would also minimize the diversion of prescription drugs.  Knowing the signs of prescription drug abuse could also help save a life.

Recognize these faces?  They all lost their lives to prescription drugs.  Read about their cause of death at http://www.pharmacytechs.net/blog/18-celebrities-who-died-from-prescription-drugs

Eminem admitted to his abuse of prescription drugs and loved it so much that he tattooed a Vicodin ( Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen) tablet on his arm.

For more information about drug abuse and addiction visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/