With prescription drug abuse surpassing the number of people who overdosed during both the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and the black tar heroin epidemic of the 1970s combined, the White House is finally doing something about it.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden announced:
"We are making an unprecedented commitment to combat the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. The government, as well as parents, patients, health care providers, and manufacturers all play a role in preventing abuse. This plan will save lives, and it will substantially lessen the burden this epidemic takes on our families, communities, and workforce."
Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis will be an effort supported by federal agencies like the FDA, DEA, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Defense and Veterans Affairs.
The campaign aims to to reduce abuse and drug diversion, educate both parents and health care providers, find better ways to dispose of unused pills, and beef up enforcement efforts by clamping down on pill mills and doctor shopping.
The major push against prescription addiction is specifically cracking down on opioids, a class of drugs used to treat chronic pain, which includes OxyContin, Vicodin, Darvon, Dilaudid and Demerol.
Although viewed as medicine, the prescription pain relievers are highly addictive, as DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said:
"When abused, prescription drugs are just as dangerous and just as addictive as drugs like methamphetamine or heroin. The more we can do to stop the abuse of prescription drugs, the more effective we will be in reducing the death, destruction and despair that accompanies all drug abuse."
The sad reality is that almost any drug can be abused by those with addictive personalities, but we hope this new campaign will drastically reduce the number of people dying from accidental overdoses of prescription drugs.
[Image via AP Images.]