They can be find in nearly every medicine cabinet and unfortunately prescription drugs are the most common form of abused drug in the United States. They are designed to help people but these little pills are being abused at an alarming rate.
"I think there's been a bona fide and concerted effort throughout the country to try to wrap our heads and hands around what's going on and slow things down." Said Craig Kindrat, a chemical dependency counselor with Avera McKennan.
Prescription drug overdoses kill 105 people everyday in the United States. According to the center for disease control, that's more deaths everyday than deaths from car accidents. Even in Sioux Falls prescriptions are being misused.
"It's something that we are definitely continually seeing and I wouldn't say that there's been a spike so to say but it's something that we are seeing on a consistent basis." Said Julie Schoolmeester, the executive director for Face it Together Sioux Falls.
Prescription drugs like hydrocodone, oxycontin, and vicodin are the most common abuses. Whether it's for a knee replacement or a broken bone, there is going to be pain during the recovery and medication prescribed.
"So you are looking at perhaps the most natural thing in the world is to replace the unpleasant with the pleasant. The quickest way to do that is to put something in your body that brings that about." Said Kindrat.
While drugs treat the symptoms, they don't treat the pain; just block it. So it's very easy for people to start down the path to abuse.
"I think too there is some sort of stereotype that we have about addiction where we think if it's something I got from my doctor or if it's something I have a prescription for I can't really have a problem this is under control. Not the case at all." Warned Schoolmeester.
In fact in the hospital, pain management doctors have to walk a fine line.
"We don't want to set the stage that the only answer to my pain is purely lying in prescription opioid medicine." Said Kindrat.
While in the hospital, doctors can carefully watch and help reduce pain more effectively. Protocols like MedSafe also help prevent over medicating, but once patients go home the onus is on them.
"They get to be more challenging when those same individuals are the ones that got on these medicines to begin with for pain reasons, legitimate pain reasons." Said Kindrat.
The classic sign of abuse is someone blazing through their prescriptions, constantly refilling or making excuses like they lost their pills. If you suspect abuse the first step would be to talk with your loved one and be supportive. Recovery from prescription drug abuse requires medical treatment to address the addiction, then seeking supportive counseling like Face it Together Sioux Falls helps make the change a lifestyle.
"We help people after that initial treatment process has been completed because working to deal with the disease of addiction especially with something like opioid dependence is not something that is just solved in 30 days it's something that you have to learn to manage throughout the course of your life." Said Schoolmeester.
Prescription drugs are not entirely a bad thing but it should be well noted, with great power comes great responsibility.
To help educate the community on the dangers of prescription drug abuse Avera McKennan and Face it Together Sioux Falls are hosting a free public informational event. The seminar will be held on Wednesday, January 29th from 6-7:30pm in the Prairie Center. An expert panel will discuss the signs, symptoms, and facts about addiction to prescription drugs and ways to get well. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.