Jacko's Death Highlights Abuse of Prescription Drugs

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr Christian Jessen VITAL SIGNS

ANOTHER death and so another issue becomes "hot". This time it's misuse or abuse of prescription drugs following the death of Michael Jackson. In this country it is now claimed that the abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs, including painkillers and stimulants, has overtaken the use of nearly all illegal drugs.

This isn't all that surprising: medications containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances can provide a high comparable to almost every illicitly manufactured drug when taken in appropriate (or should that be inappropriate?) quantities -- without the risk of them being "cut" with noxious substances by the dealer. Fentanyl, a painkilling drug, is thought to be around 80 times more potent than heroin and it is pure. Why would you ever go back to heroin? The two most commonly abused drug groups are opioids and benzodiazepines. They are usually prescribed for short-term use but they may also be prescribed for chronic pain or generalised anxiety, and this is where the problem starts.

The body becomes tolerant to their effects and so larger doses of the drugs are needed to achieve the same effect. Doses get gradually higher until patients are taking huge quantities and become dependent. …

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