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Prescription drug abuse a growing problem among Americans, P.1

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, armed robberies of pharmacies for prescription drugs are on the increase. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of such incidents rose from 385 to 698, or 51 percent. Just in the past week, armed robberies have occurred at drugstores in Massachusetts, Arizona, North Carolina and elsewhere.

According to a spokesperson from the DEA, the typical motivations are addiction and money. In addition to the physiological effects of powerful painkillers like Oxycodone, there is also the fact that such drugs earn big dollar on the black market.

Part of what is contributing to the problem is the fact that so many are currently taking prescription drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, roughly 7 million Americans, or 2.7 percent of the population, use prescription drugs when they are not medically necessary. Stimulants and tranquilizers are on the list of such drugs, but pain relievers account for around 73 percent of cases of prescription drug abuse,

The number of people who have died from use of prescription drugs has reportedly doubled over the past decade. In 2009, more Americans died due to prescription drugs than died in car accidents.

The present state of affairs has caused fear among pharmacists. Many pharmacies have responded by heightening security by installing cameras, adding more silent alarm buttons and refusing to provide information about painkillers over the phone. Prior to the scare, customers at most pharmacies could call in to find out if a particular drug was stocked, but pharmacies have begun moving away from that.

In our next post, we'll continue with this topic.

Source: CBS News, "RX abuse brings drug crime to the corner store," Julia Dahl, January 6, 2012.

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