NY Alliance offers eight ways to prevent prescription addiction

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ALBANY, NY (06/27/2012)(readMedia)--

Drug dealers aren't hiding in back alleys anymore. Instead, they rely on your medicine cabinet and the corner drug store, warns the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud (NYAAIF).

Prescription drug abuse in New York is climbing at an alarming rate and it's ruining people's lives, devastating families, increasing health care costs and raising insurance rates, the NYAAIF warned this week.

"Often, parents and friends are unaware of a growing prescription addiction until it is too late, so early prevention is key," says Jack Houston, NYAAIF chairman.

Abuse of painkillers like Oxycodone have become more prevalent than cocaine and heroin combined, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. New York prescriptions for Oxy alone have risen 82 percent, says to A.G. Eric Schneiderman.

Students also increasingly abuse prescription medicine, using Adderall or Ridalin to get a focus boost while cramming for exams. The incidents of teen fatalities related to drug poisonings increased more than 90% between 2000 and 2009, reports the CDC.

Pills are stolen from parents' medicine cabinets or bought from friends. Student dealers also may fake symptoms of ADHD to get a prescription from unknowing doctors. But consuming unnecessary prescriptions is fraud. While consumers pay for prescription fraud in the way of higher insurance premiums, prescription addicts often pay with their lives.

Legislation enacted in New York State last week will help put the brakes on people who doctor shop - the practice of getting multiple prescriptions from different physicians, by requiring that doctors consult a database of patients' prescription histories before prescribing addictive medications.

"While the government is acting fast to address the problem, consumers can curb prescription addiction from developing under their own roof," says Jack Houston.

Here are eight tips to prevent prescription addiction:

  1. Store medications out of the reach of teenagers or visitors. Remove them from medicine cabinets and hide them in a safe place that only you know about.
  2. Safely dispose of all leftover medication immediately after use, taking advantage of local drug-disposal boxes or events.
  3. Talk to your children about abuse at home and in school, teach honest ethics in preparing for tests (don't take your classmate's pills), or dealing with difficulty (don't self-prescribe pain meds).
  4. Watch for signs of addiction or experimentation in your friends and children. Determine best action steps together before rushing to a doctor for prescriptions that may not be necessary.
  5. After surgery, monitor prescription ingestion closely.
  6. Don't underestimate the grave power of unsupervised narcotics, helpful medications for one person may be fatal for another.
  7. Don't share medicine with friends or family, and don't sell leftover medication.
  8. If someone you know is addicted, talk to them about rehabilitation. Report prescription abuse by calling 1-877-RxAbuse.

"Prescription addiction begins in our own medicine cabinets," says Jack Houston. "Learn the signs of addiction and the steps for prevention...Prescription fraud steals from your wallets, and takes away lives...You've got to know it to stop it."

Follow the fraud fight on Facebook and Twitter. Visit www.fraudny.com for more info.

The New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud is a non-profit organization that seeks to increase public awareness about insurance fraud and its consequences. Membership includes more than 100 insurance companies writing policies in New York State.


Jennifer Tchinnosian