What was even more surprising was the fact that his death was linked to the prescription drug Percocet, since he was known for his clean living lifestyle. The shock waves that his early and sudden death produced also significantly increased prescription drug overdose awareness.
According to the most recent data compiled by the National Center for Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs like Percocet is responsible for the death of at least 25,000 Americans annually which exceed the number of deaths from cocaine and heroin combined for the study period. In fact, according to a report from the Journal of American Medical Association, prescription drug overdose deaths and infants born with prescription drug addiction has tripled in the last decade.
Prescription drug overdose awareness, highlighted by the loss of celebrities like Prince, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson remind us that no one is immune to this crisis. But despite the shock and the sadness, doctors, however well-intentioned, continue to write prescriptions that conflict with the neurochemistry of addiction. Also, the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies continue to support doctor dispensed drugs even as they lobby for the manufacture of more substances with the same potential for abuse.
Part of the danger of prescription drugs, according to Dr. John Sharp, a psychiatrist featured on the popular television show “Celebrity Rehab” is that the perceived risk of prescription drugs is far too low. While individuals concerned about health issues would think twice about using an illicit substance like cocaine or heroin, their comfort level with prescription drugs often lure them into a false sense of security. Even after dependence on the drug has been developed it is still difficult for most people in the general population to appreciate the danger of using these drugs since their physicians often continue to write prescriptions which in essence is perceived as approving their use.
Today, in addition to stepping up overdose awareness programs, the most effective weapon against drug overdose fatalities and addiction remain timely and comprehensive treatment at a drug rehab facility. This is especially important for those that have already succumbed to addiction and those teetering on the edge of a fatal drug overdose.
Misuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem for which there are various treatment models. The most suitable option for an individual is based on the particular drug being used, duration of abuse and the physical and psychological needs of the individual. Gradual withdrawal from habituated drug use, detoxification, behavioral therapy and counseling are core elements of most recovery programs. In cases where a patient is also dealing with a mental disorder, pharmacological intervention and psychotherapy may be incorporated into a dual diagnosis treatment process that occurs simultaneously with addiction rehabilitation.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, it is important to identify and deal with the factors that contributed to the abuse, such as environmental exposure, relationship or work related stress as well as chronic health or mental problems. Treatment enables people to learn new pain management skills, ways to control cravings, improve communication and coping strategies to deal with relationship and work relate issues without the use of drugs.
Relapse prevention education and training along with an effective aftercare plan are also integral to the sobriety maintenance stage of recovery. Addiction experts educate users about personal and universal trigger for drug abuse and how to recognize the various stages of a relapse.
Overcoming prescription drug abuse can be challenging. However, drug rehab facilities have been successful in helping thousands of people to stop the abuse and resume normal and productive lives.