Prescription Drug Abuse

​​Prescription drugs that contain controlled dangerous substances (CDS) are essential for the effective treatment of a wide range of serious medical conditions. CDS prescription drugs include opioid pain relievers like oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicet), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) and methadone prescribed for pain; anti-anxiety and sedative medications like alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium); and stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. For many patients, the availability of these drugs often means the difference between a life of relative normalcy and one of unbearable pain and suffering. Over the past two decades, the recognition that pain itself, and in particular chronic, unrelenting pain, can have severely detrimental effects on the health and welfare of patients has led to greater clinical use of CDS prescription drugs in an attempt to effectively treat a variety of painful conditions. Between 1997 and 2007, the use​ of prescripti​on opioids in the U.S. rose from 74 mg/person to 369 mg/person, an increase of 402%​.​
Paralleling the increased availability of many types of controlled substances has been a growing epidemic of prescription drug misuse, abuse and addiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers prescription drug abuse to be the fastest growing drug problem in the nation and a major contributor to the current record level of drug overdose deaths in the United States​. Between 1999 and 2010, there was a larger increase in prescription-opioid related deaths among women than men. According to the CDC, in 2008, for every 1 prescription opioid-related overdose death there were 10 admissions to drug treatment programs for abuse, 32 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse, 130 people who abuse or are dependent and 825 non-medical users.
State-level data indicate that Maryland has not been immune from this epidemic. Between 2007 and 2012, over 40% of all alcohol- and drug-related overdose deaths in the State involved one or more prescription opioids. Between 2008 and 2012, admissions to State-supported substance use disorder treatment programs related to any prescription drug increased 110%. Prescription opioid-related and benzodiazepine-related treatment admissions increased by 116% and 138%, respectively. In 2012, individuals seeking treatment for prescription drug use problems were more likely to be of younger age, white and female when compared to those seeking treatment for non-prescription drug use problems.
For more information about prescription drug abuse, please see the Links​​ section