The Dangers of Legal Drugs

Ranks of the ‘legally’ dead grow day by day writes Carol Hunt in an article about the abuse of legally available drugs.  The article first grabbed my attention because I wondered what “legally dead” meant.  Ms. Hunt is talking about the increase in the number of people who die using drugs that can be legally prescribed and taken for legitimate medical purposes.

The recent death of actress Brittany Murphy once again brings this problem to the forefront.  Although it has not been definitely determined that Murphy, age 32, died due to a lethal combination of legally prescribed drugs, based on what was found in her medicine cabinet, this is highly likely.  Toxicology reports will determine this once they are completed.

This is not a new problem – names like Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley come to mind when we talk about deaths from prescribed drugs.  More recently Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson come to mind.  If the person is famous, the problem makes headlines and is thought of as a “celebrity” problem.

Unfortunately, more and more kids are hitting the medicine cabinets for prescribed medications they can get from their classmates (Ritalin is a big one), their parents, or their friends’ parents.  All it takes is a handful from each kids’ house and you have one big “pharm party.”  Over the counter (OTC) meds are also being misused and abused more and more.

There are no easy answers.  It is going to take a combination of vigilance from parents, doctors, pharmacists and friends to combat the misuse and abuse of legal drugs in this country.  We shouldn’t forget worrying about the creepy drug dealer on the street corner, but we all need to think more about our own medicine cabinets.

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