In response to a new analysis of traffic fatalities released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Congresswoman Bono Mack (CA, 45) is recommending increased measures to educate the public, especially teens, about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and driving while using medications. According to NHTSA's Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS), the involvement of drugs in fatal crashes has increased by five percent over the past five years. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs were included in the FARS analysis in addition to illegal substances.
"Prescription drug abuse is our country's fastest growing drug problem, threatening the lives of more and more of our young people every day," stated Bono Mack. "Far too many Americans have the misconception that prescription drugs are "safer' because they're prescribed by a doctor, but the fact is that prescription drugs, when abused, can be just as addictive, deadly, and as destructive to our communities as illegal drugs."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 7 million people are utilizing prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Nearly one-third of individuals who began abusing drugs in the past year reported their first drug was a prescription drug, and one out of every five new drug abusers is initiating use with potent narcotics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicates illegal prescription drug diversion is the fastest growing drug threat nationwide.
"Just a few months ago, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) released a report that showed a 400 percent increase between 1998 and 2008 in the number of people admitted for treatment of prescription drug abuse" added Bono Mack. "Prescription drugs have become the drug of choice partly due to easy access--more than half of people get these drugs from family and friends. We have to work on all levels to fight this disturbing trend through education, partnering with law enforcement, and putting effective policies in place to better prevent abuse."