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Prescriptions on the rise: drug abuse or legal use of medication?

The war on drugs continues to wage on, leaving many people arrested and locked up for decades for merely possessing or taking a substance some find objectionable. Others are often kept under close scrutiny because they fit the "type" of person who uses drugs. Some people in Maryland may have heard that certain areas of the country have seen an increase in prescriptions for painkillers such as oxycodone, leading many to assume that there has been a similar increase in the illicit use of narcotics.

Oxycodone, one of the primary ingredients in OxyContin, is classified as a controlled substance that must be prescribed by a qualified and trained medical professional. States that have seen a significant increase in the legal prescriptions for drugs like this seem to feel that something is amiss. It appears that they have completely ignored the logical explanation that there has been a simple increase in individuals seeking treatment for pain or other issues that necessitate the use of these narcotics.

These prescriptions are not easily obtained and it is likely that most of the people who use these medications do so lawfully, following all directions and doctor's information. Yet, states are considering strict tracking measures that assume these increases are a result of a criminal element.

People are working longer and harder than they ever have in today's struggling economy, and this can increase the number of workplace or other injuries. Many chronic diseases are marked by extreme pain and discomfort. Medications such as OxyContin are vital to the daily functioning of many people in their effort to get through the pain.

While it is true that there is an illicit trade of pharmaceutical drugs, state health departments that are proposing an Internet-based tracking system may be jumping to conclusions as to the reason behind the increase in the prescription of narcotic drugs.

Source: The New York Times, "Oxycodone Prescriptions Rose Sharply in New York," N. R. Kleinfield, Jan. 11, 2012

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