In U.S., Prescription Drug Abuse Is Growing

Medicine cabinets have replaced the street as easy source of medications, experts say

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The government also is clamping down on Internet sales of drugs. The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, which became federal law in 2008, requires valid prescriptions for medications sold online. Ryan Haight died in 2001 of a fatal overdose from prescription painkillers he bought from an online source with his parents' credit card when he was just 17, Catizone said.

People concerned that a friend or relative is abusing prescription drugs should look for the same sort of telltale signs used to detect any drug use, Compton said. They might often slur their words, or they might not make any sense when speaking.

"If the pills in your medicine cabinet are disappearing, that's another warning sign," he said.

"The signs of drug abuse can be very subtle, and people often hide their behavior," Compton said. "It can be very advanced before you discover a person's behavior."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Absue has more on the abuse and addiction of prescription drugs.

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