With Oxycontin Abuse All Over The News, Is Vicodin Abuse The Forgotten Prescription Painkiller Addiction?
Vicodin abuse has been shunted to the shadows as Oxycontin abuse, addiction and overdoses draws the focus of the news media and the popular consciousness of American society. In recent drug articles and exposes from The Atlantic to The New York Post, Oxycontin covers all of the news coverage and dominates the focus of the media when it come to the prescription painkiller plague. Although the coverage makes sense given the problem, the noise of the Oxycontin focus drowns out the need to focus on other dominant prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percodan and Percocet. In particular, the Clinical Staff at One80Center is surprised by the lack of coverage in regards to Vicodin abuse and Vicodin addiction.
The History of Vicodin Abuse
Vicodin has been a problem prescription painkiller for over a quarter of a century. Hydrocodone or Vicodin was created by German scientists in the mid 1920′s. The drug was approved for sale in the United States under the brand name Hycodan in 1943. In 1984, a version of Hydrocodone under the brand name Vicodin was approved for sale by the FDA. It was sold by Abbott Laboratories.Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called opioid pain relievers. Vicodin is most commonly taken orally in pill form or crushed up and snorted. Since acetaminophen is extremely harmful to the liver in high doses (2,000+ mg), some addicts try to extract the hydrocodone from the pill resulting in a vile liquid that can be taken orally or rectally via syringe. The actual result has been countless overdoses and deaths.
Given the amount of Vicodin abuse and the number of Vicodin overdoses, an FDA Advisory Panel voted in 2009 to ban both Vicodin and Percocet. Despite the recommendation and a bit of hoopla at the time, both prescription painkillers remain on the market and neither ban has been carried out. The vote remains like a shark with no teeth, a gun with no bullets, or a government act all for show but lacking any implementation and actual positive effect. People keep trying Vicodin because of its reputation as a great recreational drug and they keep getting hooked and they keep dying needlessly. When is the media going to pay attention and place Vicodin near the center of the discussion national prescription painkiller plague?
In 2002, it was reported that emergency-room visits involving Hydrocodone had increased 500 percent since 1990. In 2006, Americans were written 130 million prescriptions for painkillers containing Hydrocodone. The vast majority of these prescriptions are for Vicodin. In 2008, Abbott planned to sell a controlled-release version of Vicodin, but fails to get FDA approval. A few months later, Abbott laid off over 200 sales reps who were expected to be marketing the product. Yes, the selling of Vicodin and other prescription painkillers always has been a big business at the expense of the American people.
Vicodin Abuse Cannot Be Ignored
There is no question that Oxycontin abuse and Oxycontin addiction is a serious threat in our country and needs to be near the center of the national prescription painkiller debate. It does not, however, need to dominate the national discussion to the point where other brands of prescription painkillers are ignored. In the extensive experience of the clinical staff at One80Center with addicts in rehab and recovery, Vicodin has been a persistent and devastating brand of opioid painkiller that has led to addiction and worse. If the national debate is going to be on target, Vicodin abuse cannot be ignored.
The plague of prescription painkillers is raging across America in the form of a multitude of opioid brands and kinds. Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin happen to be the most popular brand names on the market today. They are some of the brand names for oxycodone and hydrocodone. Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The rate of addiction and the spread of the abuse is staggering as well. Let’s take a look at some facts provided recently by a CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) report on prescription painkillers.
In 2008, there were 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths. The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that had nearly doubled in just five years. More than 12 million people reported used prescription painkillers to for recreational purposes in 2010. In 2010, 2 million people reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically for the first time within the last year—nearly 5,500 a day. The statistics go on and on, and they are shocking beyond comprehension. The problem is huge and continuing to grow each and every year.
The Clinical Staff at One80Center has focused numerous resources and expertise on fighting the prescription painkiller plague. From raising awareness to treating numerous clients, the efforts still feel like sand thrown into the wind of a raging storm. Unless federal and state governments become involved in the fight, unless the fight is even recognized as a problem in public by our public leaders, the resources needed for education, prevention and treatment will not be accessed. For example, in the last presidential election, did either candidate ever mention during a campaign stop while making a speech the need to adress the prescription drug abuse problem. The scary answer is basically “No.”
One80Center provides a proven individualized program to treat both prescription painkiller addiction and prescription drug abuse. But treatment comes after the fact when the hooks of the painkillers are deep in the wills and souls of the addicts at hand. When are we going to be able to access the kids and let them know what can happen before it’s too late? When can we use our experiences in a concrete way to raise awareness? It is frustrating how there are no clear answers for such questions.
Prescription Painkillers & One80Center’s Individualized Program
If you or a loved one is having a problem with prescription painkillers, One80Center has the experience and expertise that you need to get to the other side and on the path of long-term recovery. It does not matter the brand name (Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, etc.) or the type (hydrocodone, oxycodone). With expertise in medical detoxes and experience employing specialized services to foster recovery, we have helped prescription painkiller abusers and addicts change their stripes and discover their true path. Still, such work is not enough to stem the tide of the plague of prescription painkillers. If you want to learn more about how One80Center can help you, please take the first step and call 888.588.4180 and ask for our help.
One80Center Prescription Drug Abuse Update – Drug Overdoses Increase In The United States For The 11th Consecutive Year
One80Center Prescription Drug Abuse Update
Tired of the plague of prescription drug abuse and prescription painkiller overdoses, the entire staff at One80Centeror is sad to provide this update on our website: For the 11th consecutive year, drug overdose deaths increased in the United States. Although illegal drugs like heroin play a role, the vast majority of overdoses are from prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. In addition, prescription overdoses from Benzodiazepines is on the rise.
Drug Overdoses Increase Again
An analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found 38,329 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2010, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009. This continued the steady rise in overdose deaths seen over the past 11 years, starting with 16,849 deaths in 1999. The statistics lag because of the time it takes to compile data from across the country and obtain an accurate record. The researchers analyzed data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics 2010 multiple cause-of-death file, based on death certificates.
CDC 2010 Statistics of Drug Overdoses
In 2010, nearly 60 percent, or 22,134 fatal overdoses, involved pharmaceutical drugs. Opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, were involved in about 3-of-4 pharmaceutical overdose deaths, confirming the predominant role opioid analgesics play in overdose deaths. However, the researchers also found drugs often prescribed for mental health conditions were involved in a significant number of pharmaceutical overdose deaths.
Benzodiazepines – anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax – were involved in nearly 30 percent of these deaths. In addition, antidepressants played a factor in 18 percent of the cases and anti-psychotic drugs in 6 percent of the cases. Deaths involving more than one drug or drug class are counted multiple times and therefore are not mutually exclusive. In a statement, the lead researcher Dr. Tom Frieden said: “Patients with mental health or substance use disorders are at increased risk for non-medical use and overdose from prescription painkillers as well as being prescribed high doses of these drugs.”
One80Center is tired of watching American be ravaged by prescription drug abuse, prescription drug addiction, and overdoses across the board. Providing both treatment and raising awareness, One80Center is doing its best to stem the tide of the prescription drug abuse plague. A first key step is recognizing that prescription drug abuse is as serious and as dangerous as illegal drug abuse and needs to be highlighted in the national debate.
To battle the national plague of prescription drug addiction, a Chicago-based company named Vatex Explorations has been prototyping a smart medication dispenser that would track patient behavior in relation to prescription drug use. The Divert-X device is designed to provide an early warning that opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin are being misused. Divert-X alerts physicians in real time when and where patients are accessing medications. The idea is to avoid access of the drugs in excessive amounts and beyond the range of a given prescription. The Clinical Staff at One80Center supports any new drug technology that could help curb the storm of prescription drug addiction that is raging across the United States.
The Divert-X dispenser would come with medication prepackaged in blister packs. Each blister is connected to a chip in the unit, which records the timing of access for each dose. A GPS tracking system would also provide the dispenser’s location. The information would then be transmitted wirelessly to a central database that physicians, pharmacists or other registered users can access to determine if a patient is taking their medication as directed. “The data we’ll be generating will be giving the physician a tool that he does not have to evaluate how a patient is behaving relative to his prescription, says Simon Sellers, Chief Executive Officer of Vatex Explorations.
“If a patient seems to be adhering to the regimen, think of him getting a ‘green light’ from our system,” Sellers told American News Report. “If the patient receives our device containing opioids and immediately accesses all doses, then essentially an alarm goes off in the system. You can think of it as a ‘red light’ in that behavior is occurring which is not consistent with the prescribed regimen.” Sellers say Divert-X could also be used to spot early warning signs of a patient developing tolerance for a drug or becoming addicted.
If adopted widely, the data could be used to develop scores for patients in relation to their usage of the monitored prescription drug– similar to FICO scores – to measure their compliance and avoid prescription drug addiction. By showing a record of compliance, a patient would be more likely to be prescribed the prescription drugs they actually need. The idea is that prescription drug addiction leads to drug addict-like behaviors and compulsions where compliance is not possible.
At present, Vatex only has a prototype of a Divert-X dispenser and is seeking investors to further develop the device and fund a clinical study. “The medical insurance companies themselves estimate that drug diversion costs them about $75 billion a year,” said Sellers. “I think ultimately the extent of which the product can be used will be driven by the magnitude of overall health care cost reductions that we will be able to demonstrate.” At the same time, if Divert X is widely tested, proved to be effective and doctors are willing to participate, One80Center believes it should be given a chance to help stem the tide of prescription drug addiction in the United States.
The Clinical Staff at One80Center fully supports California Attorney General Kamala Harris in her efforts to convince Governor Jerry Brown to restore funding for a prescription drug monitoring program. Known as CURES, it is a program that One80Center believes is a key to combating prescription drug abuse and prescription drug overdose deaths in the state. California should be a trailblazer in funding such a program, setting a standard for the rest of the country that hopefully will lead to a Federal funding to create a national prescription drug monitoring program and database.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Essential
A once effective system, CURES has been severely undermined by budget cuts. Rather than being realized to its full potential, the CURES program is lingering in the financial purgatory of California’s depleted state budget. The CURES database contains detailed information on prescription narcotics, including the names of patients, the doctors prescribing the drugs and the pharmacies that dispense them. Designed to help physicians detect “doctor-shopping” patients who dupe multiple physicians into prescribing drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax, CURES was helping to turn back the tide of the prescription drug epidemic when it was being funded.
After Governor Brown’s unveiled his proposed $97.7-billion budget that actually projects a surplus, Harris immediately recommended that the extra funds should be used to restore funding to the CURES program. The California Attorney General said it was up to the state to make sure the money was “spent wisely… This includes smart investments that benefit Californians, such as restoring funding for the state’s prescription drug-monitoring program.”
CURES Is The Nation’s Oldest State Program
CURES is the nation’s oldest and largest prescription drug-monitoring program and once served as a model for other states. Today, it has fallen on hard times, reflecting the state of such programs across the country during the recent recession. What is such a tragedy is that the recession opened the door for the prescription drug abuse epidemic to spiral out of control. CURES data could have been used to save countless lived by monitoring physicians whose prescribing puts patients at risk. But it hasn’t been used to even a fraction of its full potential and is an effective tool that has been tossed aside. Such a choice is nothing less than criminal considering what is at stake.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that states use such data to keep tabs on doctors. Today, despite the recession, at least half a dozen states do so. It is time that California joins that list and restores its once trailblazing reputation when it comes to the fight against prescription drug abuse. Shortly after Harris succeeded Brown as attorney general, the governor gutted the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the funding for CURES in 2011; Harris kept the program alive with about $400,000 in revenue from the Medical Board of California and other licensing boards. But it is down to one employee and has no enforcement capacity. It is a guard dog without teeth.
Will California Fund The Cures Program?
State officials have estimated it would cost about $2.8 million to make CURES more accessible and easier to use, and $1.6 million more per year to keep it running. However, officials say the program — with little or no additional financial resources — could now be used to identify potentially rogue doctors. Bob Pack, an Internet entrepreneur, has advocated using CURES more vigorously to track reckless physicians and pharmacies as well as doctor-shopping patients. He became active on the issue after a driver high on painkillers and alcohol struck and killed his two young children in the Bay Area suburb of Danville in 2003.
An aide to Harris said restoring the CURES program is a high priority. “She’s committed to fixing the database and making it as strong as possible,” said Travis LeBlanc, special assistant attorney general. The Clinical Staff at One80Center fully supports such efforts in the future. It is time to get CURES back on track and do everything we can to stem the tide of the prescription drug abuse epidemic before more lives are carelessly lost.
Prescription Painkiller Smuggling Goes Both Ways – Los Angeles Doctor & US Drug Ring Charged With Smuggling Hydrocodone From California To Mexico
Smuggling prescription painkillers is not a one-way street when it comes to the United States and Mexico. U.S. border inspectors are not only seizing drugs coming into the country from Mexico – they’re making arrests for drug smuggling that’s going the other way as well. At the end of 2012, a Los Angeles-area doctor and 14 others were charged in a conspiracy to smuggle prescription drugs from California to Mexico. Although One80Center is never surprised by the size and power of the prescription painkiller smuggling plague, the clinical staff was taken aback to learn the new update.
Prescription Painkiller Smuggling From California To Mexico
Going against the grain of the typical, the unusual operation sent a flood of opiates to Tijuana pharmacies in exchange for bundles of cash. The bundles of cash were then smuggled back into the United States by American addicts. The addicts hired by the smugglers went down on jaunts across the border from San Diego to Mexico to buy the prescription painkillers over the counter, and then returned with the drugs and the bundles of cash.
It seems that it was easier for American prescription painkiller dealers to unload large batches of prescription painkillers at loosely regulated Mexican pharmacies than to distribute them in small amounts to American street dealers. But the prescription painkiller smuggling operation was also incredibly profitable. A smuggler who buys a pill for about $2 in the United States can sell it to a Mexican pharmacy for about $3.50, and the American addict pays about $6 to bring it back home. “We got Tijuana in the palm of our hand,” Jason Lewis, one of the people accused of smuggling, said in a wiretapped conversation, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in the case. “We’ve been doing this for years, bro.”
Prescription Painkiller Smuggling of Hydrocodone & Vicodin
Investigators say the San Diego ring is the first they found that was smuggling drugs into Mexico. The 17-month investigation resulted in the arrest this week of Dr. Tyron Reece, a 71-year-old general practitioner who runs a solo practice in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. Reece wrote prescriptions last year for about 920,000 hydrocodone pills, which are commonly sold under the brand names Vicodin and Lortab, authorities said.
Smugglers strapped pills to their bodies or hid them in engine compartments before crossing the border. Their favorite checkpoint was San Ysidro, the nation’s busiest crossing that connects San Diego and Tijuana. They usually crossed at night. By law, Mexican border pharmacies must get prescriptions from Mexican doctors for powerful painkillers and psychotropic drugs. But it’s not hard to find ones that will break the law.
As part of the investigation, a 41-year-old woman was arrested walking across the border around 3 a.m. with 8,200 hydrocodone pills in two juice boxes, and a 37-year-old man was taken into custody walking across with nearly 4,000 hydrocodone tablets tied to his leg and waist. Profits from the scheme came back to the United States. A 39-year-old female addict linked to the ring was arrested entering the United States with about $27,000 cash stuffed in her bra.
Seven others face charges in state court, authorities said. Hydrocodone, nearly as powerful as morphine, caused 2,499 deaths in the United States from 1998 to 2002, the most recent data analyzed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA says there were 130 million prescriptions written in 2006, up nearly 50 percent over six years. In recent years, the death toll has dramatically risen. One80Center congratulates the DEA and local enforcement agencies for making sure the prescription painkiller smuggling law is enforced in both directions.
Expert Panel Opposes FDA Approval Of New Painkiller Zohydro, Citing Need To Stem The Prescription Drug Epidemic
A panel of outside experts brought in by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has voted against recommending Zogenix Inc’s Zohydro painkiller for FDA approval. In a break from past decisions, the panel cited concerns about the danger of addiction posed by the drug class known as opioids. If they choose, FDA officials could still approve the new painkiller by imposing certain restrictions to protect public safety. The Clinical Staff at One80Center approves the decision by the panel of experts to put safety first and profit second by making sure another dangerous new painkiller does not enter the marketplace without the proper safeguards.
New Painkiller Zohydro Rejected
In a strong rejection backed by an 11-2 vote, advisory committee members said the San Diego-based pharmaceutical company had met narrow FDA targets for safety, but that is not enough. The panel expressed worries that the new painkiller known generically as hydrocodone bitartrate had the potential to become a drug of choice for prescription painkiller addicts and abusers. Similar to oxycodone, the new painkiller is addictive with potential for widespread abuse.
Zohydro is a single-entity, extended-release product containing the narcotic painkiller hydrocodone with no other pharmaceutical ingredient. Health officials say hydrocodone, the active ingredient in Zohydro, is already the most widely abused drug in an opioid class linked to the prescription drug abuse epidemic. “Zogenix recognizes and appreciates that prescription opioid misuse and abuse is a critical issue. However, it is also important to remember that there is a documented patient need for an extended-release hydrocodone medicine without acetaminophen,” the company said in a statement.
FDA officials will consider the committee’s recommendation in deciding by March 1 whether to approve Zohydro for sale in the United States. The drug is designed to help those who require a round-the-clock painkiller for an extended period of time. Although effective pain management for chronic pain is needed, public safety must come first. “The primary thing has to be the public health,” said Dr. Judith Kramer of Duke University. “And I don’t see how we can’t see this as a promised repeat performance.”
7 Million Americans Abuse Prescription Drugs
An estimated 7 million Americans abuse pharmaceutical drugs. Prescription drugs account for about 75 percent of all drug-related U.S. overdose deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three of every four deaths from pills involve opioid pain relievers including oxycodone. Avi Israel, father of an 18-year-old boy who suffered from Crohn’s disease and committed suicide after becoming addicted to hydrocodone, said: “Today we have a chance to save people… Ask yourself this question… do we really need another narcotic pill to help anybody with pain? We can’t handle what we have.”
Dr. Bob Rappaport, director of the FDA’s division of anesthesia, analgesia and addiction products, warned that the ultimate decision must be based on a tangible difference between Zohydro and other opioid-based medications already available. If there is no difference, then Rappaport said, “You’re punishing this company and this drug because of the sins of the previous developers and their products. And from a regulatory standpoint, that’s not really something we can do.” Then again, given the history of abuse associated with Oxycontin and Vicodin, helping to stem the ongoing prescription painkiller abuse epidemic must be a priority of regulators. One80Center believes public safety must be a top priority when it comes to addressing prescription drug abuse and choices made by the FDA and the federal government.
NPR Reveals Suboxone Abuse As The So-Called Answer To Prescription Painkiller Addiction As The Drug Moves To The Black Market
Although Suboxone appears like an answer to prescription narcotics addiction and illegal heroin and opiate addiction, it is pointed out in an NPR probing report that it is also a very dangerous drug that should be managed only under the guidance of an addiction professional. Unfortunately, more and more addicts are turning to the black market and dealers to maintain their Suboxone supply in the tradition of marijuana maintenance. ONE80CENTER has used Suboxone to help wean clients off heroin and serious prescription narcotics like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin, but only in the context of a treatment environment that is controlled and monitored. At the same time, we have treated clients unable to wean themselves off of Suboxone after being repeatedly prescribed it by hands-off physicians and medical professionals.
Suboxone Becomes Narcotic Addiction Maintenance
When Suboxone addicts have a hard time getting prescriptions, they are turning more and more to a growing black market for the prescription drug. Suboxone is very different from prescription painkillers and illegal narcotics. With the generic name buprenorphine, it is very hard to overdose on. Addicts mainly take Suboxone to avoid withdrawal symptoms and manage their cravings. But the use of the drug can become a maintenance addiction in and of itself as it helps people get back into the flow of daily life. But not without a dependence on Suboxone as a maintenance drug that often leads to relapse and greater difficulties.
Prescription Painkiller Addiction Rate Out Of Control
In the NPR report that is focused on New Mexico, we learn the state has the highest fatal drug overdose rate in the country, and it has battled against one of the worst heroin epidemics seen in any state. In addition, a recent report from the New Mexico Department of Health shows the sales of opioid pain relievers that are popular recreational drugs increased by 131% between 2001 and 2010. “A lot of physicians are very resistant to prescribing Suboxone because they fear it will attract opiate addicts to their practices which brings with it a whole can of worms in terms of managing those clients,” says Seth Williams, a nurse practitioner who treats the homeless in Albuquerque. ONE80CENTER believes that Suboxone should only be used as a temporary transition that leads to actual sobriety and a sustainable path of long-term recovery.
Buprenorphine — the main ingredient in Suboxone — has become one of the only drug s that doctors can prescribe in their offices to treat heroin and pain pill addiction. Because it is an opiate, the regulations are strict. Doctors have to complete a special training, and there’s a limit to the number of patients they can see. But the need for opiate treatment has drastically increased so Suboxone has moved to the black market.
Since the prescription drug overdose death rate in the US is three times what it was in 1999, ONE80CENTER believes that Suboxone should be used when it can be monitored and help to reduce the damage done by opiate addicts. As a harm reduction methodology, Suboxone makes sense, but not as a long-term answer.
Suboxone Black Market Is Not The Answer
If Suboxone gains a reputation as a street drug answer to narcotics addiction, a bad problem will only grow worse. NPR raised a lot of valuable answers in its piece on the challenges of Suboxone. If anything, it falls right in line with the ONE80CENTER belief that the prescription painkiller problem in America is only getting worse and needs to be addressed by professionals. Harm reduction and drug maintenance strategies are not the long-term answer for addiction. The only true answer is sustainable recovery in the form of a commitment to true sobriety.
When The Ryan Haight Consumer Protection Act Stumbles, What Can Be Done To Stop Rogue Internet Pharmacies From Illegally Dealing Prescription Painkillers?
Rogue Internet pharmacies continue to fuel prescription drug abuse and addiction to prescription painkillers in the United States. ONE80CENTER believes something has to be done in order to curb the illegal distribution of prescription painkillers, particularly Hydrocodone and other opiate derivatives. With the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 not doing enough, no major larges have been enacted on a national level to truly address this problem. Although Internet piracy and extreme pornography are serious issues that also need to be addressed, they simply do not compare to the rising death toll of overdoses and suicides that have been caused by the criminal business practices of rogue Internet pharmacies.
Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protect Act
The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act that aimed to control unlawful access to potent drugs that are potentially lethal. The Ryan Haight Act is named for an 18-year-old student who died after he took an overdose of what was represented to him as Vicodin (hydrocodone). An honor student in high school and a varsity tennis player, Ryan simply did not fit the traditional profile of a troubled teenage drug abuser. Most likely, Ryan was one more example of a young person in the experimental phase of drug abuse that became a victim of a system of easy access.
Prescription Painkillers – Overdoses And Deaths
In 2001, Ryan ordered Vicodin from an online site that claimed to be a legitimate pharmacy. He used the family computer in his home in San Diego and a debit card his parents had given him so that he could trade baseball cards on eBay. The rogue pharmacy indicated a physician’s prescription was not needed because it was affiliated with a doctor who would authorize the drug for distribution to the buyer. In the online questionnaire that was required, Ryan lied by saying that he was a 25-year-old male with chronic back pain.
A few days after he received the pills, he was found dead from what was described as an overdose of Vicodin. After his death, one of Ryan’s friends told his parents that Ryan used the Internet to get access to the drugs. His Mother testified before Congress: “At a time when we were worried about our children being exposed to pornography and predators, marijuana and alcohol, we did not know that drug dealers were in our own family room.”
The Ryan Haight Act required Internet pharmacies to display the following on their Web site: 1) who owns the Web site; 2) the name of the pharmacist associated with the Web site; and 3) the name of any physician working for or with the Web site owner. An Internet pharmacy is also prohibited from referring the patient to a physician who never sees the patient in the context of a normal patient-physician relationship. Pharmacies that use the Internet for distribution and dispensing activities have to obtain a certification from the DEA indicating that the pharmacy is in compliance with all of the laws addressing these issues. That certification is in addition to the registration requirements of the Controlled Substances Act.
The Ryan Haight Act permits state attorney generals to initiate criminal proceedings in a federal court against those involved with illegal Internet pharmacy operations like dealing prescription painkillers. This provision is designed to help the state enforcement agencies overcome jurisdictional hurdles. It is not surprising that Internet pharmacy organizations tend to be located in states other than the one where the medications are being delivered. As a result, the law has proven to be very hard to enforce.
Rogue Internet Pharmacies Abroad
Moreover, the Ryan Haight Act does not address the problem of rogue pharmacies that operate outside the country. Statistics suggest that when an Internet provider operating in another country obtains a request for controlled medications, the actual dispensing of the drug happens at a local pharmacy within the U.S. The Ryan Haight Act makes a distinction between lawful acquisition of drugs from outside the U.S. border and unlawful prescriptions obtained within our borders for the purpose of diversion. Still, it has failed to have the impact that legislators hoped for in 2008.
Although the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was a step in the right direction, the clinical staff at ONE80CENTER knows from experience that was not enough to stem the tide of prescription painkiller abuse. Oxycodone remains easily available on the web as the rogue Internet pharmacies continue to make a killing in more ways than one. In conjunction, the federal and state governments need to do something to prevent easy access to prescription painkillers and other prescription drugs. If you or a loved one is having a problem with prescription painkillers, the time to take action is now by calling ONE80CENTER at 888.588.4180.
Prescription pills. My lord, I loved them. I loved to have a pocket of vicodin on the right, and a pocket of xanax on the left, and somas or narcos in my purse, and I would just juggle them until I got the desired effect. I’d add vodka to this cocktail, and I was good to go. I wanted to be numb. I wanted to feel normal, which for me, at that time, meant feeling nothing, like a sleepwalking zombie. I couldn’t handle feelings, nary a one.
THE INSIDIOUSNESS OF PHARMACEUTICALS
I never stopped to think how dangerous this was. Pills seem so innocuous, just these little tiny things. No smell, no smoke, no paraphernalia. I remember when I was 17, a kid I knew stole my bottle out of my purse- my little pharmacy of valium, fiorinal, elevail, halcion- all that I had discovered in my great aunt’s bathroom drawer. She had been a pharmacist. Very fitting. That kid, who stole my stash, went blind for 8 hours. I was terrified that I would get busted, that my drug use would blind him forever, that a combination of what I took could blind anyone, even me. I remember how it used to freak people out when I would pass out with my eyes open. And I remember waking up in the hospital in 4 point restraints, after having flatlined from an accidental overdose at 18. None of this deterred me in the least. I thought it was epic, in my flaming youth. It was my intention to blaze through life, even if I had to flirt with death to do it.
That was a long, long time ago. I am no spring chicken, so when I speak of my teenage years, that was well over 25 years ago. It wasn’t easy to get those kind of drugs then- or, I should say, it wasn’t that common. Street drugs, at the time, were coke and pot, acid and ecstacy, and, if you were really hardcore, speed and heroin, and qualudes to help you come down. What you did often was dictated by who you hung out with and what kind of music you listened to- it was a socially dictated sort of thing. And then, it wasn’t, as you explored your addiction, your friends would change to suit your drug. I went from punk rock to hippy to beatnik to LA nightlife to a mom with mother’s little helpers, and my drugs of choice changed with each scene. I still am not sure if I chose my friends because of the drugs or chose the drugs because of my friends. I just know it morphed as I went along. But with today’s pill usage, it is no longer dictated by one’s group or peers- its ever present.
I was trying to count how many people I know who have lost their lives to prescription pill abuse. Just in the past five years, its a stunning number, and a sad number. Its too many. I know people who go out and shoot speedballs in their necks, get beat up on skid row and end up in jail and live through it nearly un-phased. And then there are people who take a couple of pharmaceuticals and drink a bottle of wine and die in their sleep. Recently, very publicly,there have been celebrities who died either in their shower, or in their bath, or in their bed. Young people with bright futures, again, very public. And the same is true for scores of people who are not in the public eye. It is a very big problem, and its growing. Its one of the most rapidly escalating causes of death, but the true numbers are hard to track.
Recently, a family member of mine was prescribed clonopin and zoloft for anxiety. He went out drinking and passed out in the bathroom of a club for an hour. If he had been in a bathtub, he would have drowned. It is usually women who will go fill up a tub and get in with a glass of wine once they have a good buzz going, so they are more likely to meet a terrible end that way. But what if my family member had been driving, swimming in a pool or in a hot tub? How often do people die and it isn’t traced back to the culprit of mixing prescription meds and alcohol? We can’t really quantify the real number of deaths due to that deadly combination, but suffice it to say, its staggering.
I have made a point of talking to my kids about this, extensively. I want them to have a fear of this, not a cavalier attitude. Not ‘its no big deal, its just a couple of pills and a few drinks’. or, ‘That won’t happen to me.’ I tell them that everyone thinks that. No one thinks, “Oh, wow, that could be me. I might die if I do that.” I know that teenagers are popping xanax and narco and vicodins and oxycontin left and right. They go out and drink and think nothing of it. I did it. I nearly didn’t survive it. We all think we are untouchable, and no one is as surprised as we are when we realize that we’ve gone too far, and that we may pay with our lives for that arrogance.
I am writing this because I know that someone who is now reading this won’t survive. I know that it might be you, reading it right now. I also know that it might not be you, if you heed this warning. In recovery, of course we want everyone to stay sober. We want everyone to stay alive. We want everyone to be happy and healthy and loving life. But that isn’t always the case. People die, and they die a lot, and they die young, and they leave a lot of very devastated people behind. They die when they least expect it. They don’t think they will, and then they do. If you are in recovery, just stay. Just do it. Stay sober and stay alive. If you are struggling, join us. Stay for today, and do the same thing tomorrow. We want to live, and we want you with us. If you are taking pharmaceuticals that are prescribed by a Dr., take them as prescribed, and talk to your Dr about the dangers of drinking with what you are taking. And do as he says. Your life depends on it.