Prescription drugs have transformed the face of addiction. It is often carefully masked by the image of a mother, father, teenager, grandparent as well as trusted doctors and nurses. It invades the lives of the affluent, as well as the impoverished. Even an advocate seeking to expose pharmaceutical companies found himself secretly supporting these purveyors of prescription drugs to feed his own addiction to them. Such is the case for film maker Chris Bell. While filming “Prescription Thugs”, a documentary that explores the effects of prescription drug addiction on the nation, Bell frequently found himself inebriated and scrounging for Xanax pills at urgent care clinics. “Prescription Thugs” features not only this country’s intolerance for pain, but a drug culture endorsed through insufficient oversight by the U.S. Government in order to prevent the rampant and legal dispensation of these lethal substances. The documentary is a visual representation that unveils the horrific, and at times, “hard to accept facts” about our detrimental relationship with pharmaceutical companies and prescription drugs. Bell’s in-depth exploration of the subject led him to the stories behind various celebrity deaths that were closely linked to their use, misuse or addiction to prescription drugs such as Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, to name a few. Bell’s quest revealed the subtle infiltration of addiction from millions of prescriptions written by doctors that have flooded medicine cabinets in every city and state. Pointing to the fact that the U.S. contains only 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes 75% of the world’s prescription drugs, Bell questioned how it got to be that way. Through a series of interviews and the retelling of his brother’s own heart-tugging story, he unraveled the slide into addiction, and in some ways, the answer to the question for his viewers. Since the consequences of misuse of prescription drugs have directly or indirectly touched the lives of so many, the documentary represents a reiteration of the problem. It provides and an objective, yet painful confirmation that prescription drug addiction is a national problem. In fact, so steeped is the nation in the use of prescription drugs, and other substances of abuse, that in the documentary, Bell refers to America as the “United States of addiction”.
Prescription drug abuse occurs in various ways. It can happen quickly and often do for many who begin with legitimate use of a drug prescribed to help manage pain after surgery or an injury. In Chris Bell’s case, he stated that he became addicted to painkillers he received to help alleviate pain after hip replacement surgery. Overtime, he transitioned to Xanax and alcohol. The shift can be so subtle, Bell said, that you may not even be aware that it is happening. The definition of prescription drug abuse is the consumption of prescription drugs that was not prescribed for you or in ways that exceed safe use guidelines. According to the United States National Institute on Health (NIH), approximately 16 million Americans had reported using a prescription drug for non-medical reasons within the past year and seven million in the past month. While results are slow in coming, films like “Prescription Thugs” help to bring awareness that can save lives. Purdue Pharma the manufacturers OxyContin which is one of the most abused drugs in America agreed to pay $600 million for fines and damages for providing misleading information about the addictive properties of the drug by their executives that impacted patients, regulators and doctors. Recommendations have also been made by the Food and Drug Administration that led to restrictions on the dispensation of a number of pain medications. Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem but one that can be solved with appropriate medical intervention. If you or a loved one has become dependent on a prescription drug it may be time to seek help at a drug rehabilitation facility. Drug withdrawal symptoms can escalate from mild to life-threatening quickly therefore halting any form of substance abuse with medical oversight is always highly recommended. If you or someone you love is addicted to prescription medications, get help now. Drug treatment specialists are ready to take your call and help you find the detox and treatment programs that best suit your needs.
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