The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling prescription overdose deaths one of the most serious and fastest growing epidemics in America.
Friday, the North Colorado Health Alliance met with physicians and doctors in Colorado Springs to discuss ways to stop drug abuse.
“We are essentially a nation addicted to painkillers,” Mark Wallace, the CEO of North Colorado Health Alliance said.
The stories of addiction are similar in nature. Most start with patients getting legitimate prescriptions for pain from a doctor.
"If you have acute pain, let's treat it well,” Wallace said. “ However, we don’t want you to end up taking these prescriptions when you don't need them. What we find is that the longer someone is on these medications, the more likely they are to become addicted."
Dawn Fosket knows the devastation prescription drug abuse leaves behind. Her son Michael died in 2012 after overdosing on pain pills.
"We are losing close to 60 people a day due to prescription drugs,” she said.
Family physicians say they are seeing more people overdosing on painkillers because people aren’t realizing the powerful punch the pills carry.
"One of the patients we had at the first symposium was a young woman that began her addiction after her first pregnancy,” Lesley Brooks, the assistant medical director for the North Colorado Health Alliance said. “She left the Percocet and that began her slide into addiction."
Physicians say the key to ending prescription drug abuse is through awareness and better drug oversight programs.
Already, the State of Colorado has a drug monitoring system which keeps track of controlled substances prescribed to patients.
Doctors also encourage patients to clean out their medicine cabinets.
Unused medication can easily end up in the wrong hands.
National Drug Take-back day is Saturday, September 25.
For a list of drop off locations, visit the “Your Healthy Family” section of KOAA.com.
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