CNN ran an interesting program that took my breath away on March 2 regarding prescription drug addiction.
Poppy Harlow spent a night interviewing women in the Cooke County Jail in eastern Tennessee where the sheriff reported that approximately 95% of the 49 women were being held from one month to a year for prescription drub abuse. Eight bunks were double occupied, and 4 or 5 women are often sleeping on the floor. Many women were being held for parole or probation violations.
The number one cause of fatalities in eastern Tennessee is drug overdose, not homicide or traffic accidents Harlow reports. Trafficking in drugs is drives local crime, with “Roxycodone” bringing as much as $35 per pill. That’s some revenue! The woman being arrested for the 13th time was 47, and had been dealing since she was 14.
The inmates reported that most get pills from a friend or a family member. Usage is predominant among women.
This is family issue beginning early in life, people!
Women are more likely abuse prescription rugs to “feel better,” one officer said, and another said, “Women are good at hiding things.”
At Anderson County, outside of Knoxville, TN, the Chief Avery Johnson reported that 90% of inmates were incarcerated prescription for drug abuse, and that nearly half of the throughout the state are overcrowded. He had 48 beds for 66 inmates, and has held as many as 97 inmates at one time. Construction is underway for 212 more beds by for a total of 566 total beds by next November. That’s up from 166 beds in 1994, and there will be no problem filling them. And this is incarceration, not rehabilitation.
These are staggering statistics from one region in one state. These women have families, many have children, and one in the interview was eight months pregnant with a little girl.
Three years ago the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that more than half of 2.4 million Americans abusing prescription drugs for the first time were women, with one third under the age of 17 according to the Bradford Health Articles. They also reported that the White House considers women to be one of the three populations most at risk for substance abuse. The most common drugs abused are anti-depressants, painkillers, and ADD/ADHD prescriptions, the report notes.
Many of the women who become addicted to prescribed medications would not be inclined to abuse to abuse drugs or alcohol, but with script in hand the reality of abuse becomes obscured. A prescription also makes consumption easier to hide.
Lax medical supervision may be part of the problem. But families have a responsibility to be vigilant as well to changes in behavior, spending patterns, and family dynamics.
The burgeoning problem of prescription drug abuse is right under our noses — in our homes, our schools, our communities. We cannot afford to house the increasing numbers of female abusers alone. Moreover, we cannot afford to lose these daughters and wives and mothers to their families and society.
As we look out for our precious selves, let us look out for those we love.