According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, poisoning has become the leading cause of injury death.
- In 2008, more than 41,000 people died from poisoning in the U.S.
- Almost 90 percent of poisoning deaths (36,500 fatalities) were caused by drugs.
- Most drug-related deaths are caused by illegal drugs, such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine, but more than 40 percent of all drug fatalities in 2008 involved prescription opioid analgesics.
Analgesics are painkillers, and opioids include the prescription medications OxyContin, Percocet, oxycodone, Vicodin and others. They treat pain by preventing certain nerve signals from reaching the brain. Unfortunately for many, opioids also change the way the brain processes the nerve signals that do get through. These nerve signals create a strong, addictive sense of euphoria. An opioid can also cause an overwhelming psychological compulsion to use the drug. People who develop this addiction often take the drug in higher and higher dosages, administer it in alternative and dangerous ways or use it in combination with other substances. These behaviors often cause poisoning and death.
Without medical precautions, patients can easily become physically dependent on these medicines. Careful doctors limit this risk by using opioids sparingly and for the shortest possible time. Some doctors, however, simply write the prescriptions and move on to the next patient without a second thought.
Anyone can Become an Addict
Anyone can become addicted to prescription opioids. The person in line behind you at the grocery store may be addicted. The woman driving the car in the next lane could be addicted. The receptionist in your office, or the person working on the power lines after a storm, or the crossing guard at an elementary school could all become addicted to opioid analgesics if their doctors are not careful about how they prescribe them or if they come by the drugs illegally.
People who become addicted to oxycodone often shop from doctor to doctor, seeking to obtain multiple prescriptions. When doctors or pharmacies turn them away, many turn to street drugs. The Tampa Bay Times recently ran an article about Oxycontin addiction that profiled a middle-aged woman with two children, a loving mother with an addiction that was destroying her life. The woman in the article, Stacy Nicholson, had been arrested for attempting to obtain oxycodone with a fake prescription. She had been addicted to the medication for about four years and could not break free.
In St. Petersburg, people like Stacy have some options. The reporter accompanied her to an all-female drug court, and the judge offered her a chance to enter a rehab program for a second time. Pinellas County, Florida, received a $900,000 federal grant to fund substance abuse treatments for women in drug court. In other communities across the U.S., publicly funded treatment options do not exist. Rehab is expensive, and many people simply cannot afford it. Often oxycodone addicts simply go to prison when they break the law.
Help Is Available
If you are addicted to prescription medicine, do not wait to become another statistic in a government report. Seek help today. Doctors should be held accountable for substandard care that allows people to become addicted to oxycodone. Contact us and our attorneys will review your case free of charge. If appropriate, we will l help you secure compensation to pay for treatment needed to help you beat your addition.