Tag Archives: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Overdosing America

More and more people are using prescription drugs for reasons not intended by their doctors.

Prescription pain medications kill more than 20,000 people in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s more than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.

Dr. Stan Galperson, Director of Residential and Outpatient Programs at Tarzana Treatment Centers said that while these prescription drugs are addicting they do have legitimate uses.

“Where would we be without pain relief? I mean you go under the knife and surgery and you come out and you just take a couple of aspirin? I don’t think so,” Galperson said. “They all have legitimate purposes, but you know the potential of abuse is pretty high.”

Addicts are willing to go to extreme lengths to hide their addiction. However, there will usually be clues that may give the addicts away.

Ali, who wants to remain anonymous, has been clean and sober for 5 and 1/2 years. She said she believed she was doing a good job in keeping her secret hidden.

“I thought I was hiding it, but at the end it came out,” she said. “I lost a lot of weight, my hair was falling out, my skin was yellow. I didn’t think anything was wrong.”

While no one decides to get addicted to prescription medication, many wonder what these drugs have that make them so addictive for some people.

“They alter your brain chemistry,” Galperson said. “The drugs themselves is not what gets you high, it’s the manipulation that takes place. But what happens is after months and years of abuse, you alter your brain chemistry, and so now you are depleted, and using the drugs helps you feel normal again. It just becomes a vicious cycle. It’s really hard to break.”

According to the CDC, drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury death in the United States. Every day more than 100 people die as a result of drug overdose and close to 7,000 are treated in emergency departments.

“I got to a point where I no longer wanted to be alive,” Ali said. “I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore, and the only thing I knew how to do, the only solution I had, was to take drugs or drink alcohol to not feel. I numbed myself out. I didn’t know how to deal with life on a daily basis.”

One part of California Proposition 46, on the ballot this November, requires health care practitioners to consult the state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances.

“That part of the bill I like,” Galperson said.  “Addicts and alcoholics are very manipulative people, so it’s nothing to go from one doctor and get a prescription and go across the street to another doctor and get a prescription. If my doctor knows I’m already being prescribed over here, it will limit access. I think that’s smart and we have the technology, so we should go ahead and do it.”


Moderator: Stephanie Murguia

Producer: Candice Curtis

Anchor: Gabriela Rodriguez

Reporter: Danny Max

Social Media Editor: Ugochi Obinma

Comments Off on Overdosing America