Legal Drugs Lead to Majority of Overdose Deaths in the United States

Credit: 18percentgrey/ Shutterstock.com
608
INTERACTIONS

In recent years, there has been a massive spike in premature deaths among U.S. citizens and military personnel due to prescription drug use. Meanwhile, some drugs that have shown potential for combatting severe psychological disorders remain illegal.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drug overdose is the leading cause of sudden deaths in the United States, surpassing homicide, gun shot deaths, suicide, and car accidents. The analysis relays the fact that 38,329 people died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2010, its most recent year of study. Prescription drugs accounted for 60 percent of these deaths.

The CDC says the increase in overdose deaths is primarily due to opioid analgesics — painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. The increase in opioid overdoses accounted for 3 out of 4 fatal prescription drug overdoses.

The numbers suggest that the potential harm or benefit of a given drug is not necessarily related to its federal drug policy classification.

For example, preliminary studies on the usage of 3,4-MDMA, a Schedule I drug, has shown considerable promise for treating post traumatic stress syndrome.

study conducted by MAPS has gained considerable press for its potential. The study reported that 16 of the 19 participants showed statistically significant gains in symptom relief, rendering the experiment a guarded success.

However, as with any scientific endeavor, further study and analyses are necessary for conclusive evidence.

Schedule I is a classification reserved for drugs believed to have no positive medical usages, making them difficult to acquire for medical purposes. The result of the hearing to determine MDMA’s categorization came in contrast to the presiding Judge’s recommendation, which was echoed in the Federation of American Scientist’s unsuccessful 2001 proposal to re-evaluate the drug.

The current legal restrictions on Schedule I drugs makes obtaining permission to undertake the necessarily large scale, legal, scientific studies with MDMA extremely difficult.

The military has become an unintentional focus group for this issue. The use of prescription opiates, as well as the potential for MDMA, affects veterans of the armed forces to a higher degree than the civilian population.

 

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, states:

 “As in the society at large, the greater availability of opioid pain medications is likely a major factor in their growing abuse; the number of pain reliever prescriptions written by military physicians quadrupled between 2001 and 2009- to almost 3.8 million”

The TRICARE report submitted to Congress for Fiscal Year 2012 noted that prescription use is 35 percent higher within the military than within the civilian population, a disparity that is explained by the higher level of physical dangers that come with the duties of being a service member.

However, while it is important to address the physical pain of returning soldiers, but just as important to address the burden of mental struggles. The emotional anguish incurred as a cost of war can be every bit as damaging as the physical, and our servicemen and women should be allowed to explore all potential avenues of relief.

In order to make drug policy more beneficial to people, policymakers ought to formulate a more complete understanding of substances — including the dangers of drugs that have been deemed good, and the good of the drugs that have been deemed dangerous.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


Learn More About IVN

Leave a Comment
  1. Nick Wilson and heroin use once those viks and perks get to expensive and hard to come by.
  2. Rebecca Woo Or maybe doctors should stop pushing drugs on their patients...
  3. Peter Irvine Common sense has been missing from this argument for over 40 years now, and it will take a great deal of it to reverse the rampant campaign of mis-information and blatant brainwashing of the populace at-large and see that these evil useless substances may just be the exact opposite of that description. Meanwhile millions more will die from legal use of actual dangerous substances in a society which is corrupt and basically stupid!
  4. Jenn E Paradise it's common sense to me! prescription drugs are legal and prescribed for a reason....but that reason isn't to help people.
  5. Simon Nomis Agree!! It's the same old story. Education on scientistic facts is the key, not on old tradition believes full of bias!
  6. Bob Kenney well no shit lol
  7. Brett Reagan NO SHIT?! Lol
  8. Kevin Norton “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.” ― Terence McKenna
  9. Texture Santino D You don't say.
  10. Christopher Smith I lost a friend to PTSD and using doping is not a treatment and there is no cure. Here is why the Psychiatric Industry wants to dope the Nation up. 32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc. 39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals. http://rense.com/general32/americ.htm
21 comments
Nick Wilson
Nick Wilson

and heroin use once those viks and perks get to expensive and hard to come by.

Rebecca Woo
Rebecca Woo

Or maybe doctors should stop pushing drugs on their patients...

Peter Irvine
Peter Irvine

Common sense has been missing from this argument for over 40 years now, and it will take a great deal of it to reverse the rampant campaign of mis-information and blatant brainwashing of the populace at-large and see that these evil useless substances may just be the exact opposite of that description. Meanwhile millions more will die from legal use of actual dangerous substances in a society which is corrupt and basically stupid!

Jenn E Paradise
Jenn E Paradise

it's common sense to me! prescription drugs are legal and prescribed for a reason....but that reason isn't to help people.

Simon Nomis
Simon Nomis

Agree!! It's the same old story. Education on scientistic facts is the key, not on old tradition believes full of bias!

Kevin Norton
Kevin Norton

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

― Terence McKenna

Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith

I lost a friend to PTSD and using doping is not a treatment and there is no cure.

Here is why the Psychiatric Industry wants to dope the Nation up.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture--education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

http://rense.com/general32/americ.htm

Amy Counts Farmer
Amy Counts Farmer

MDMA was at one time used as a marital therapy drug. LOL I bet some folks were having a blasty blast getting all freaky with their spouse!

Wendy Innes
Wendy Innes

I agree that it's imperative that the mental problems of returning soldiers be treated as well as the physical problems, but the fact that pain killer prescriptions quadrupled while the military was engaged in conflicts in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq doesn't really point to anything conclusive. I agree that this new medication should be extensively evaluated if there is even the slightest hope of it being effective for the many who suffer from PTSD, but comparing pain killers to psychological medications is like comparing apples to a grilled cheese sandwich... they are completely different.

Charlotte Dean
Charlotte Dean

There's a social bias surrounding the idea of a chemical acquired from a prescribing doctor and a chemical acquired from a shady old hippie, and rightly so. However, because a prescribed chemical has a white coat approving it we seem to believe that gives us free reign to abuse under the rationale that more is better. The simple fact is that every chemical distilled in every little white pill came from somewhere and had to be either extracted or synthesized, often to imitate the natural remedies discredited simply because they haven't been processed into pills. These artificial concentrations then come with a little package of unforeseen side effects that most natural manifestations of healing chemicals, through the grace of evolution, have managed to avoid. Our task is to sever the fostering relationship between Big Pharma and Small Practice so that doctors are not totally indoctrinated into an all-artificial prescribing regimen.

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

The conversation of how we classify drugs needs to continue. If MDMA is critical for some medical situations, its schedule I categorization should be reconsidered.

Joseph Avery
Joseph Avery

You are definitely correct @wendyppp, the point wasn't that prescription increases are conclusive in highlighting a problem, as much as their popularity is a reason that this issue is worthy of evaluating.

You are also correct that these substances are completely different. The point I was going for was comparative in a different sense. Lets use the grilled cheese to apple analogy this way: obesity is a problem in this country, so we've declared a war on food. Some people only eat grilled cheese sandwiches, so we've decided they are okay because some people genuinely need them. Furthermore, we give them out for free. However, numbers have indicated too many grilled cheese's can give you a heart attack, and several people have died from this, more people than any other food. We are still reasonable in accepting that some people need grilled cheese.

We have also made a social decision that apple's are bad, we've stigmatized them because people are spending all night up at the club eating too many apples, and some have choked on the cores. However, even though new studies suggest that an apple a day might actually keep the doctor away, we refuse to allow further study, because that food is illegal.

I'm not comparing the apple to the grilled cheese to see which is better, they serve a different purpose, but I believe I've made a point that suggests re-evaluating the war on food. This isn't because one food is better than the other, but because the arguments surrounding which food we've decided is okay, and which food can't even be studied are not consistent, or beneficial for the whole of population.

It's a silly hypothetical but I hope it illustrates my argument a bit better. Thanks for taking the time to read critically and comment!

Jen
Jen

This is very well said, but unfortunately.. to be expected I think. Afterall, there are natural remedies for most everything, but they couldn't milk money out of you if you could keep yourself healthy. At least not yet.. maybe when drones are more widespread and they can scan and tax what plants and such you are growing, they might be more inclined to "allow" people. It is definitely not a coincidence that all the medical breakthroughs they come up with are restructuring and supposedly "improving" a natural element which itself has healing properties. And unless you yourself are a chemical/bio engineer, how do you know, for sure, they aren't causing those problems to begin with? Creating problems to solve isn't unheard of in the business world.

Joseph Avery
Joseph Avery

The disparity in how we treat legal and illegal drugs is indicative of the larger need to re-evaluate our use of the word drug. The term casts a wide net of negative connotation over a variety of substances that should be looked at as the different and unrelated substances that they are.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

even marijuana, which has proven to have some medical benefit is still scheduled as though it didnt.

Wendy Innes
Wendy Innes

I agree that the new "apple" should be given a full comprehensive review. Unfortunately we tend to live in a bit of a "nanny" culture where people's personal choices are regulated as if they couldn't make decisions for themselves. Case in point, the soft drink ban in NY.

Joseph Avery
Joseph Avery

Haha definitely. People always scream for liberty in their own personal arena but allow other freedoms to be taken away because don't want to "foot the bill". It's a dangerous trend.