ODing in the ED.

According to the Associated Press:

“For the first time, abuse of painkillers and other medication is sending as many people to the emergency room as the use of illegal drugs.”

Damn.

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4 thoughts on “ODing in the ED.

  1. That sounds horrifying, but I’m a bit confused by prescription and OTC drugs being lumped together. All the graphics are of OTC drugs like Tylenol and Advil. How, exactly, are people abusing these non- addictive drugs? Are these one time overdoses, or an ongoing problem?

    • That is a really good comment Erika.

      The most commonly abused over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are cough and cold medications that contain DXM, dextromethorphan. There are some photos of Robitussin, a commonly abused cough medication.

      You are right, the most commonly abused pain killers are prescription drugs that contain opiates, not OTC Tylenol and Advil. I see how the slide show might be confusing, but it was more meant to illustrate how the line between drug store medications and street drugs is becoming blurry. OTC drugs, prescription medications and drugs sold on the street or at parties all have the potential for abuse. Street drugs just don’t have multi-million dollar campaigns advertising them.

      To read more about commonly abused medications, click here: http://bit.ly/aLpM0d

  2. Hi Katherine,

    I stumbled across your blog, and I am glad I did because I find it very fascinating and thought provoking. This post in particular is interesting to consider. Is our society overly medicated, especially with respect to pain killers and antibiotics? I am also aware of very high priced drugs. At what point is it no longer cost effective from a society’s perspective to prescribe drugs so heavily? Do you think doctors are catering to the public demand for cures / solutions when traditional solutions might offer more cost effective outcomes? I’ve also read studies showing that the levels of medicine in the public drinking water is alarmingly high. Thanks again for all the interesting posts.

    • Hi Bill,

      There are a lot of problems with prescription medication. A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, released today, found rehab admissions for prescription medication abuse grew by 400 percent over a ten-year period. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/90skAJ

      In terms of public demand for cures, I think that is a very expensive part of the healthcare system. When I shadowed in the ED, there were a lot of patients there for non-emergent things like nausea or a sore foot. People sometimes go in just for sunburns. Some things can’t be cured, you just have to suck it up and take care of yourself.

      Thank you for commenting!

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