Why New York is Using Federal Funds to Battle Prescription Drug Abuse
The epidemic of prescription drug abuse reaches across the country. Certain areas, including New York state, are seeing record numbers of abusers, addicts, overdose deaths and new heroin users. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced an $8.1-million grant that will be put to use in local communities to help fight the battle against prescription drug abuse.
Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics
New York is right to be concerned about young people and prescription drug abuse, as the statistics are alarming. Among high school seniors, Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat ADHD, is the second most commonly abused substance behind marijuana. Vicodin, a narcotic painkiller, and prescription tranquilizers are the fourth and fifth most commonly abused drugs. Also disturbing is the fact that seven out of 10 teens abusing prescription narcotics are also mixing them with other substances, including marijuana and alcohol.
The dangers of teens abusing prescriptions, and especially when mixed with other substances, are serious. Narcotic painkillers are highly addictive, and it’s easy to experience an accidental overdose, especially for young, inexperienced abusers. Mixing narcotics with other substances only increases the risk of dangerous side effects and overdoses.
Another frightening outcome of the abuse of prescription drugs is the increase in the use of heroin. While officials have worked to stem the flow of prescription narcotics onto the illegal marketplace, heroin has rushed in to take their place. It is a similar drug, and now is often cheaper and easier to find. The prescription drug epidemic is quickly becoming a heroin epidemic. Addiction to heroin and narcotic prescriptions has become a major problem in New York, where more than 118,000 people were admitted for treatment in 2014, an increase of nearly 18 percent over five years.
New York’s Efforts to Battle Prescription Drug Abuse
In New York, the millions in funding will go to help up to 10 communities fight the tide of prescription and heroin abuse, especially among young people. The money comes from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, a part of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The community organizations that receive a portion of the grant money will be focusing their efforts on overdose deaths among people aged 12 to 25, as well as training in the use of naloxone. Naloxone is known as the overdose antidote and can save lives when administered quickly enough to someone overdosing on heroin or a narcotic painkiller.
While the grant money is targeted at various efforts to battle the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse, the real focus will be on teens and young adults. Adults are also susceptible to this kind of drug abuse, but young people are especially vulnerable. They often start out abusing prescription narcotics without realizing the serious risks involved. Once addicted, they are vulnerable to heroin dealers who look for new victims for their drugs. Teenagers and young adults in New York and other states are disproportionately affected by the abuse of prescription drugs and heroin, and the efforts being made can barely keep up with the problem. Officials hope that the grant money will help communities make a dent in this serious issue.