Natalie Rich: Equal danger

January 29, 2013 

Equal danger

The rapid rise in prescription drug deaths cannot be ignored. The N.C. Child Fatalities Task Force sheds much-needed light on this epidemic in your Jan. 11 article “Prescription ODs on the rise.”

Having worked in substance abuse treatment, I witnessed firsthand the growing use and abuse of prescription medication. My experience mirrors Mike Lancaster’s comment that people assume prescription drugs are safer than street drugs. It is much more socially acceptable to use (and even abuse) opioid pain relievers like oxycodone that it is to shoot heroin. Yet the dangers of these two drugs are virtually the same.

As the article suggests, teens are especially susceptible to the misconception that prescription drugs are safe, which puts them at high risk for overdose. I have worked with college students who accidentally overdosed because they mixed alcohol with their prescriptions, not realizing how dangerous it is.

We have to recognize that prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal street drugs. Otherwise, we will lose more and more of our teens to overdose.

Natalie Rich


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