JOPLIN, MO.--- Prescription drug abuse is becoming a main concern for many health care providers because the number of addictions is increasing. Prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, because of easy access.
"Prescription drug use is the fastest growing chemical dependance that we are seeing right now," said Joshua Allison, Freeman Ozark Center Counselor.
Joshua Allison is a counselor at the Freeman Ozark Center for drug and alcohol addiction in Joplin. He says prescription drugs are viewed as less harmful, so people are more likely to experiment and try different things with them.
"They're accessible. Everybody has prescriptions for the most part and so you have, you know, especially in the teenage population, kids just taking everything they can get their hands on just to have an affect on things," said Allison.
Doctor Sadie Holland specializes in pain management at Freeman Health System in Joplin. She says people tend to become more addicted to medications that will cause a high or a euphoric feeling, but also medications that cause a calming effect.
"Usually these are narcotics. Medications used for anti-anxiety like bizadyapins, as well as some muscle relaxes," said Dr. Sadie Holland, D.O. Freeman Health System, Pain Management.
She says separating addicts from those who need the prescription plagues health care providers the most. There are screening monitors that allow doctors to supervise patients.
"At Freeman, we have an electronic health record which really does link a patients chart through all the different physicians, so we can see their medical concerns and their trends in medication refills through that," said Dr. Holland.
Allison says access to care and access information is one way to fight the epidemic.
"The number one bearer to treatment is access to care. Getting people in, getting people comfortable with the idea that treatment can help with these sort of problems," said Allison.
The Trust of America's Health uses 10 strategies to help combat the abuse of prescription drugs nationwide. Missouri only uses 3 of the 10 strategies while Kansas uses 4, Arkansas uses 6 and Oklahoma uses 8 out of 10. The Trust is working to improve these numbers through education.
Copyright 2013 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.