If the death numbers are staggering, 8,500 from 2001-2005, then consider this. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 abuse prescription drugs more than any other age group.
Texas Health Dallas Psychiatrist Dr. Tom Wood leads a group therapy class full of people addicted to drugs. He says about a third of is patients are hooked on prescription drugs.
"I think there are a lot of young adults, college age students, I've had few that come through here that were taking it just as recreation, and they really weren't aware that it was in the same class as morphine or heroin."
Dr. Wood says many become hooked so quickly they begin looking for pain medications everywhere.
"Almost inevitably, if someone is addicted and they come in here for that type of medication and I'll ask them and yes, they'll routinely raid anyone's medicine cabinet then they go visiting."
Some are able to buy painkillers on the street. Last week, two robbers were caught trying to steal painkillers from a Dallas pharmacy. Parkland Hospital addiction specialist Dr. Brain Fuehrlein say 70 percent of emergency room visits are caused by drugs.
"There is a black market, an underground market for these types of medications and unfortunately, addictions tend to start at a very young age often even under eighteen."
Others simply go from doctor to doctor shopping for prescriptions. Feuhrlein says electronic records could eliminate the problem.
"An electronic or centralized database of prescriptions or medications would help with that problem because now everyone can tap into a centralized resource and say well, doctor so and so has already prescribed you pain medicine."
Pain medicines that Dr. Feuhrlein says can kill.
"And this very innocent prescription of a pain killer or an anxiety medicine can spiral out of control and eventually take the life of someone."
Study: Painkillers contributed to 8,500 deaths in 2005
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