Prescription drug abuse on the rise locally

By Mark Bullion

December 10, 2012 Updated Dec 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Prescription drugs are sometimes a necessity.
But if misused, medications like Oxycontin or Xanax can lead you down a dangerous path of addiction, one that can even end your life. But you're not alone, and help is out there.

"The number of deaths in the country from prescription medications is the highest, its about 26,000 deaths a year," said ER Dr. George Hevesy with OSF St. Francis Medical Center.

A startling statistic that Dr. Hevesy says is only getting worse, especially when it comes to opiates meant for pain relief.

"More prescriptions are written for pain medication and as the number of written prescriptions increase, the abuse increases and we see more overdoses," said Dr. Hevesy.

On average, Dr. Hevesy says he sees anywhere between 10 and 50 patients that overdose a month.

He's says that's due primarily to a built up tolerance to the drug and getting access to these drugs is no easier than opening your medicine cabinet.

"Seventy percent of the people that use prescription narcotics first get it from a family member or a friend, not off the street," added Dr. Hevesy.

If you or someone you know is abusing prescription drugs, help is out there.

Illinois Center for Addiction Recovery Counselor Ed Betzelberger says once a person is taken or weaned off their medications and medically detoxed, the healing process begins.

"Treatment is looking at how do we replace what they were on and not just medicinally, but behaviorally, cognitively, what kind of interventions can we provide that will help a person," said Betzelberger.

So while treatment is out there, the first step is admitting there is a problem.

"If you think you have a problem, chances are that you do,trust that instinct," added Betzelberger.

Before that problem lands you either in the hospital or in the ground.

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