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July 10th, 2009
04:35 PM ET

Dramatic Rise in Prescription Drug Abuse

The Michael Jackson case is putting the spotlight on prescription drug abuse. It's a serious problem that affects people in all walks of life – 20,000 people die every year from prescription drug overdoses. Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen takes a look at the problem and what some are trying to do about it. Follow Elizabeth Cohen on Twitter:

Filed under: Daily Dose • Heidi Collins
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. jim farley

    Please Stop sensationalizing Michael Jackson's drug use when you don't have the facts! Ten .25 mil Xanax isn't that much for someone who has anxiety and sleep issues. I know this for a fact! Must we blow everything out of proportion? This comment is coming from a fifty three year old white male who is sick of the crap!!!!!!!!!!!!! I remember when You used to report the news...What happened? What about Bush's spying? What about Iran? What about N. Korea and Computer viruses? Why are you still dragging Michael's kids through this crap? There is plenty more to talk about without referring to MJ every other story!

    July 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  2. David

    Heidi, the video starts out with Elizabeth Cohen saying that prescription drug abuse is the elephant in the room and then is incomplete. It would be nice to see the full interview.

    July 11, 2009 at 1:30 am |
  3. Jane

    Prescription drug abuse has been a serious problem for a few years now, way before Michael Jackson's downfall. What ashame that it took a celebrity to bring attention to the number one killer of teens and adults at this time. Maybe the congress and senate should be working on getting help for drug treatment in the US, but the truth in america today is- unless you are famous your problems and life are of no importance to no one.
    Michael Jackson's (broke with no cash flow) memorial proved how crazy americans are as a nation and the tapped out state of California jump into the madness without one guarantee of assistance.
    We should be so proud to be americans- what a joke!

    July 11, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  4. Tomasz in NY


    I bear witness that there are people dying because they have stolen these drugs from the medicine cabinets and are using them in lieu of Heroin and other such "street drugs."
    If the amount of those people is negligable and the majority of the people that are dying are doing so because of the pain of surgery or because of chronic illnesses that they have been prescribed the medication to 'dull the pain' then it is evidence that there must be dramatic reforms to the Sick Care system in the US to make it a Health Maintenance arrangement in which people receive medical attention before the problems they face become such that they must be prescribed narcotic pain relievers so that they are not encompassed in agony.
    It is often the case that people cannot afford the cost of routine tests and examinations and discover illnesses only when they have become terminal.

    It is a fear among the masses that when the Sick Care companies will be cajoled to provide care for example for Cancer Patients, they will do so but at the expense of for example people with Mental Illnesses. One group will be denied treatment so that Sick Care companies can show Congress that they have done as mandated and provided for Cancer patients. The salaries of the Executives will remain unaffected throughout the duration of the matter.

    July 12, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  5. matthew brown

    i believe xanax should be out – lawed because i have seen my wife who is prescribed xanax to take 5 a night like prescribed and she is unable to drive a vehicle or let alone stay awake while going to the bathroom she has almost killed herself while driving on by almost hitting parked vehicles, etc while on xanax numerous amounts of time even though doctors suggest she take that amount at night time . so you want my oppion michael very well have been killed by xanax overdose. i hope this message is heard over t.v. air and sent to everybody prescribed this horrible drug thank you.

    July 13, 2009 at 12:23 am |
  6. Charles Kopack

    Enough with the Michael Jackson "drug abuse" problem. Yes – prescribed drugs are a problem, there is no doubt.

    But – let's look at one contributing factor – doctors and drug companies. As long as doctors continue to buy into the notion that drugs are the answer to all of the ills of the world, and continue to overprescribe them, there is the possibility for abuse. And, as long as the drug companies are allowed to espouse the notion that drugs are the answer to everything, there will be a possibility for abuse.

    Do prescribed drugs help? In some cases, yes. But, not all.

    As long as doctors and the drug companies can influence the populace that drugs are the answer to all of your ills; and as long as there is unrestricted advertsing for those drugs in the media; there will always be an room for abuse, because the mind-set will be fostered.

    July 13, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  7. Sean

    Charles Kopack: you are completely out of touch with this issue and subscribing to some truly erronous presumptions.

    First of all, there are very very few doctors (perhaps less than 1%) that could possibly benefit financially from prescribing a medication. The only time, is if a medication is being prescribed in a research study etc.

    As a doctor, I struggle daily with patients that are constantly demanding, faking symptoms, throwing fits, or threatening complaints or resorting to other tactics to get a certain medication. I struggle daily with patients that doctor shopping to get what they want, and patients that want 6 month supplies of very dangerous medications.
    In reality, for any cause, a patient can complain to the state board, HMO, head office, chief physician, other doctors, nurses, other patients. when they complain, they don't give an honest story of what really happened. even if the complaint is frivolous, the State board can investigate the doctor for many months, causing great grief for the physician. Complaints to HMOs or insurance companies can cause the doctor to lose employment or have bad issues on his record even for very frivolous things.
    when you see 40 patients in a day as a family doctor, having even 4 patients like this, which is the usual, is enough to drive most doctors off the wall. so many will just give in.
    the only way to solve this problem is education not just by doctors, but by those entities the patients usually complain to about a doctor: such as state board, HMOs, the press, the media etc.
    For doctors to be able to say NO more often, they need to be empowered to do so.

    July 17, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  8. Reggie Greene / The Logistician

    An excerpt from our recent article on Michael Jackson:

    "Lest you be confused about this drug thing, there is little difference between illegal/recreational drugs, and prescription drugs, with the exceptions being the legitimacy of the “entity” which produces them, who gets to prescribe them, and whether politicians benefit. Drugs be drugs.

    "Take it from some guys who matured (arguably) during the drugs, sex, and rock and roll years. We know lots of successful doctors, business people, family people, accountants, judges, and pillars of society who once used drugs in many a form and fashion. Fortunately for most of them and for society, they appreciated that drugs might be an interesting pastime, but not a life long journey."

    July 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  9. Unique

    It is very difficult to take the pills, vicodin in this case we are gaining control of our body, we must remain very careful and not fall and hang on to drugs, always remember to look at this couple and for our future. I read findrxonline certainly are very addictive and so we need to know control.

    August 4, 2009 at 9:19 am |