Dying from Drug Overdoses

In Portsmouth, Ohio the number of people dying from prescription drug overdoses is rising.  Many of those dying are adolescents and young adults.  This article describes the increasing problem in the town.  According to the article nearly 1 in 10 babies had tested positive for drugs last year. Seventh graders have been caught with prescription drugs and many rehab facilities are filling with young patients.  As of 2007, deaths from drug overdose were greater than deaths from car crashes.

This situation has been compared to the 1980s, when grandparents had to raise the children of drug addicts who grew up to become addicts, too.  An Ohio policeman talks of how children today are third or fourth generation addicts.  One fact that shocked me:  more people died in Ohio within two years due to overdoses than the number of people who died in 9/11.

A lot of people would consider drug overdoses to be a fairly private issue.  Families might be ashamed or embarrassed that their young relatives died because of prescription drug misuse.  However, in order for the issue to be addressed, the problem needs to be made public.  Local and national government officials have made this issue a priority within the past few years, designating funds to combat adolescent drug abuse.

In the Ohio town, the problem is so prevalent that business owners are having trouble finding job candidates who can pass a drug test.  The drugs are coming from a number of places:  doctors, parents, and neighbors with access to prescription drugs.

When I first read this article, I was shocked by many of the statistics, including the number of babies who test positive for drugs and the number of young drug users.  Then I thought, why is drug abuse so prevalent in this state and in this town?  Is there a reason that adolescents are turning to prescription drugs?  Shouldn’t there be help in place to prevent drug abuse from becoming a family trait?  The article noted that Portsmouth was once an industrial town.  In many towns such as this, industry has declined and there are not enough jobs.  Even those with jobs are not receiving wages with which they can live reasonably.  Perhaps this decline in productivity has led to a decline in social structure and support.  However, can the problem be solved/lessened by targeting social support systems?  Should rehab or prevention be a priority?

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