East Texas ERs find Rx drugs as big of problem as illegal drugs

E. R. Nurse Peni Russell.
E. R. Nurse Peni Russell.
Trauma Coordinator Scott Christopher.
Trauma Coordinator Scott Christopher.

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - According to a new government report, emergency room visits from prescription abuse are as common as those from illegal drugs.

"I've run out of my medications. My doctor is out of town. I'm from another city and I don't have a doctor here. I just arrived here. These type of stories," said nurse Peni Russell.

Some will drive and drive until they get what they want.

"They'll travel as far as 100-200 miles, from here to Houston, to find a physician that doesn't know them in order to obtain a prescription," said Russell.

Bad wrecks can also be caused by prescription abuse. Victims show up in the emergency room.

"Very frequently, the patient wasn't drunk and driving. They were overmedicated and driving," said Trauma Coordinator Scott Christopher.

Overdoses on prescription drugs are right in line with overdoses on heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs.

"They're using both illegal drugs, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, in addition to Xanax, the vicodine," said Russell.

Some addictions follow valid use of prescriptions.

"The management by an individual physician is what is key to keep it under control," said Christopher.

Emergency rooms in the U.S. saw about 1 million visits from the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter meds. So next time you're asked all those pain questions, you'll know one reason why.

It's unclear exactly why painkiller abuse is dramatically on the rise. Health officials say it might be due to the number of prescriptions increasing.

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