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In 2012 car accidents are no longer the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States; drug overdoses are. This should be a wake-up call. The prescription painkiller epidemic needs to get under control before it is too late.

In recent years generic oxycodone pills and other opiates have become tamper proof. They cannot be crushed and snorted or used for intravenous injections. Why haven’t all prescription drugs been made tamper proof?

I have experienced the hardships and heartbreak of prescription drug abuse firsthand and enough is enough. It’s sad to realize that pretty much everyone knows someone who abuses prescription drugs. More people die from painkiller overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. From 1999 until now accidental overdoses are up more than 90 percent.

I am finally seeing commercials warning the general public of the dangers of prescription drugs, but I feel it is too little too late. We need to take drastic action. This epidemic is affecting everyone. There needs to be a national database monitoring painkiller prescriptions. Heroin addicts are on the rise in the United States. Addicts turn to heroin when they cannot afford oxycodone anymore. Heroin and oxycodone are basically interchangeable except heroin is a lot cheaper and more potent but the effects are similar.

I am not saying we should cease all oxycodone prescriptions but we need to have a more formal way of prescribing narcotics to patients. The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries where advertising prescription drugs is legal.

We have to change our mentality. There is a drug for everything. You have anxiety take this, you can’t focus take that, you can’t fall asleep take this. Unintentionally an epidemic of mass proportions has been created and we need to backtrack and fix our mistakes.

I propose we open more rehabilitation clinics where people can go for help. Addiction recovery is a long-term battle that many will struggle with for the rest of their lives. They need to have support and motivation to stay sober. Rehab clinics would provide this. More rehab clinics would also help with the influx of addicts.

Also doctors need to be better informed about the drugs they are prescribing. The pharmaceutical companies are the backbone of this epidemic. Everyone involved needs to be held accountable.

Why hasn’t this dilemma been brought to the national level? It’s sad to see such destruction in young adult’s lives yet not a single politician or celebrity is stepping forward to spread the word on the dangers of prescription drugs. We need to act now before more people walk down the dark path of painkiller addiction. I think we need to incorporate drug education for prescription drugs into children’s drug programs.

I don’t want to see another person close to me fall into the unrelenting hands of painkiller addiction. With everyone’s help and dedication we can reverse the tides of this epidemic and spread the word so future generations are saved.

Ben Aud, Lexington Park