The state of Florida is suing two of the nation’s largest drugstores, Walgreens and CVS, for allegedly contributing to the opioid crisis, reports the Associated Press. The lawsuit argues that these pharmacies have contributed to the opioid crisis in the U.S. by way of inflating the supply and demand for opioids in the state.
This is the latest action the state has taken in the fight against moneyed pharmaceutical interests, and this case will be added to an existing lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive opioid painkiller, OxyContin, and other pharmaceutical companies who have been accused of contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis in the country.
What do Pharmacies have to do with the Opioid Crisis?
Attorney General Pam Bondi said that CVS and Walgreens had failed to halt “suspicious orders of opioids” and the dispensing of “unreasonable quantities” of these drugs. The lawsuit claims that since 2016, Walgreens has dispensed billions of opioids from Floridian pharmacies. As many as 2.2 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed from a store in Hudson, Tampa, a shockingly high number for a city of just 12,000 residents. Some stores saw opioid sales skyrocket, increasing 6-fold in only 2 years.
It is Bondi’s belief that thousands of Floridians have suffered because of the actions of these pharmacies.
This isn’t the first time these pharmacy chains have gotten into trouble. Just 5 years ago, Walgreens was said to have paid $80 million to resolve a federal investigation into violations of record-keeping and dispensing requirements. According to related documents, Walgreens’ negligence resulted in controlled substances such as opioid painkillers being diverted for abuse and for sale on the black market.
What was the Response from the Accused Companies?
Walgreens declined to comment on the lawsuit. CVS, however, pushed back in a recent statement. Spokesperson Mike DeAngelis said the lawsuit was “without merit.” DeAngelis continued, “Over the past several years, CVS has taken numerous actions to strengthen our existing safeguards to help address the nation’s opioid epidemic.”
De Angelis assured the public that CVS trains its pharmacists and assistants how to responsibly dispense controlled substances. He also said that they are trained to detect potentially illegal sales. But is it enough?
While we have seen some progress in Florida—largely focused on the crackdown on pain mills, a system in which drug dealers send people to clinics to get illegitimate prescriptions for opioid painkillers—the opioid crisis shows few signs of relenting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. continues to rise and is largely driven by opioids. An estimated 130 people die each day from an opioid overdose. We must do more.
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High school can be difficult for a number of reasons. It can be academically challenging, highly stressful as college preparation ramps up, and often includes a lot of social pressure to act or do as the “in crowd” does. All in all, there is a lot on high school students’ shoulders during this period. Unfortunately, this can lead to dropouts.
Students will leave high school without finishing for a number of reasons, and many of these overlap with the reasons teens experiment with drugs. Feeling like they don’t belong, feeling immense stress, feeling depressed — each of these can push a student over the edge. With this in mind, we decided to look further into how high school dropout rates correlate with drug use across the U.S. Read on to learn more about our study — we start with a high-level overview of the findings, then discuss each type of drug use in detail (in order of highest to lowest correlation).
Table of Contents
For this analysis, we used data on rates of adult and youth drug use from the 2017 Federal SAMHSA survey. We compared these rates across U.S. states to the rate of students who do not complete high school in each state, which comes from the Department of Education. We used a standard correlation calculation, where “r” is on a -1 to 1 scale, with 1 being a direct correlation.
High School Dropout Rate in Each State
First, we looked at the high school dropout rate in each U.S. state. We found notable variance in these rates across the nation. New Mexico has the highest dropout rate (28.9%), followed by the District of Columbia (26.8%) and Oregon (23.3%). The states with the lowest are Iowa (9.0%), New Jersey (9.5%), and Tennessee (10.2%).
Correlation Between Drug Use and High School Dropout Rates
Next, we looked at how the high school dropout rate is correlated with the rate of drug use across U.S. states. Some types of drug use, such as adult marijuana use (r = 0.4368) or youth illicit drug use (r = 0.3965), show a notable correlation. Other types of drug use show less correlation, or even show a negative correlation.
Correlation Between Adult Marijuana Use and High School Dropout Rates
Next, we looked further into the correlation between high school dropout rates and specific types of drug use. The strongest correlation we found is with adult marijuana use (r = 0.4368). As you can see on the scatter plot, many states follow a trend of having a higher rate of adult marijuana use if they show a higher rate of high school dropouts.
Correlation Between Adult Illicit Drug Use (Non-Marijuana) and Dropout Rates
Then, we looked at adult illicit drug use (not including marijuana), which shows a correlation of 0.4204. The District of Columbia notably shows a high rate of adult illicit drug use (non-marijuana) in addition to a high rate of high school dropouts.
Correlation Between Adult Illicit Drug Use and Dropout Rates
Next, we measured the correlation between adult illicit drug use (including marijuana) and dropout rates. We found a strong link between these rates (r = 0.4160), which is apparent on the scatter plot above.
Correlation Between Youth Illicit Drug Use and Dropout Rates
Youth drug use and high school dropout rates also show a connection, as one might expect. Illicit drug use (including marijuana) shows a correlation of 0.3965 with dropouts.
Correlation Between Youth Illicit Drug Use (Non-Marijuana) and Dropout Rates
Next, we looked at youth illicit drug use (excluding marijuana) and how that trends with high school completion. We found a notable correlation of 0.3965 between these two rates across U.S. states.
Correlation Between Youth Marijuana Use and Dropout Rates
Our analysis of youth marijuana use showed similar results. We found a correlation of 0.3160 between this rate and high school dropout rates.
Correlation Between Adult Cocaine Use and Dropout Rates
Finally, we looked at the rate of cocaine use. When it comes to adult use of this drug, there’s a notable trend of dropout rates being higher where adult cocaine is more prevalent (r = 0.3136).
No matter how strong of a mathematical link we found from our analysis, we know that an environment of drug use is not ideal for high school students. We hope this study will continue the conversation around these topics.
If you’re concerned that you or a loved one might be struggling with substance abuse, learn more about addiction and how we can help.
- 2017 SAMHSA
- U.S. Department of Education
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It’s no secret that drug and alcohol-related content is some of the most engaging out there. People can’t get enough of content like AMC’s Breaking Bad, Showtime’s Weeds, and USA’s Queen of the South; so much so that they consistently tune in to their favorites, even if the underlying message is questionable. That’s why it’s no surprise that drugs and alcohol have made their way into – and even become central themes – of some of the most popular shows of all time. It’s as simple as this: supply and demand.
Honestly, we get it. Drug and alcohol-related tv shows are interesting and engaging if not always entirely accurate. But when our favorite shows fail to highlight the realistic repercussions of drug and alcohol use, that’s when they fall into dangerous territory.
While we all know that drug and alcohol-related terms regularly find their way into TV shows on the most popular television networks, there’s less conversation surrounding the prevalence of drug and alcohol references in the original shows put out by some of the world’s top streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And this sparked our curiosity.
How frequently do these terms really occur in the shows released by our beloved streaming services? And are some streaming outlets more drug-friendly than others?
With these questions in mind, we analyzed the total number of drug and alcohol mentions per season on each major platform’s original shows. We then ranked the shows and platforms accordingly. And we must say, our findings might surprise you!
When it comes to the shows with the most drug and alcohol mentions, we found that the margin of difference between the top shows in each network and the runner-up isn’t that significant. On Hulu, for example, The Mindy Project had nearly thirty-one drug and alcohol mentions per season – only about three more mentions than Deadbeat. Similarly, with Amazon Prime, there’s only a margin of three mentions that separates the top two shows: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Patriot. The exception to this trend is Netflix, where we found a 26 point gap between Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series and Murder Mountain.
We also found it somewhat surprising that seemingly lighthearted shows like The Mindy Project and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel had among the highest number drug and alcohol mentions on their respective streaming services. This goes to show how commonplace substance use is. The “light” tv shows still talk about drugs and alcohol because it’s relevant to a general audience.
Aside from the sheer numbers of drug and alcohol mentions, we were also curious about the differences in drug and alcohol-related terms by platform. And as it turns out, there are several differences worth noting.
First, the term ‘dope,’ must be a Netflix thing, as it tied for the most-used drug or alcohol-related term on Netflix originals, but didn’t make the top ten on either of the other streaming services. Drunk, weed, drinking, drugs, and beer were among the other most frequently used terms in Netflix originals.
With sixty-two occurrences, Hulu original writers must have wine on their minds. Though “beer” ,also made the cut, it ranked much higher on Netflix. Following wine, drunk, and drinking are the second and third-most frequent terms used on Hulu, occurring sixty and fifty-two times, respectively.
As for Amazon Prime, “drinking” and “drunk” occurred most often – forty-seven and forty-six times, to be exact.
It’s also worth pointing out that Amazon also uses a few less-common drug-related terms, like ‘lit’ and ‘acid,’ that weren’t among those on its competitors’ shortlists.
While Hulu and Amazon Prime certainly don’t shy away from drug and alcohol references, neither outlet comes close to the frequency with which Netflix mentions these topics. In fact, Netflix originals include over twice as many drug and alcohol-related terms as Hulu and Amazon Prime do.
For better or for worse, it’s safe to say that drug and alcohol references are, and will likely continue to be, a prevalent subject, infiltrating most of the media we consume in one way or another. And clearly, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime originals are not immune to this trend. So, the next time you open your favorite streaming service, remember to stop and ask yourself:
- What message is this show sending about drug and alcohol use?
- Is that message true?
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Drugs are a popular topic in today’s media. From the war on drugs, the widespread legalization of marijuana, or the opioid crisis, it’s hard to miss a conversation that revolves around drugs. This isn’t news, though. Drugs have been around for a long time. In fact, drug use has been ingrained in societies for thousands of years.
Here at Rehabs.com, it’s important for us to look at historic trends to see how drug use has affected people since drug use began. But, since that kind of historical data doesn’t exist, we decided to scale down our research and look at a smaller timeline – the past few decades. We went through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 1979 through 2017* from SAMHSA and compiled the data to figure out what the most popular drug is by decade. Take a look at what we found below:
According to SAMHSA reports, the most popular drug by decade (excluding alcohol and marijuana) changed over time. The percentages refer to the number of people who have reportedly used the drug within the last 12 months at the time of the survey response. Cocaine had the highest usage rate by a fair margin in the ’80s. Drug use rates dropped overall in the ’90s, but analgesics/pain relievers were the most commonly used substance for that decade. Pain relievers remained the most popular drug for the next 2 decades, with usage rates rising substantially over the next 20 years.
Included in the research are analgesics/pain relievers, cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, inhalants, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers. According to the graphic above, analgesics/pain relievers took the lead as the most used drug for the past three decades, while cocaine was the most used at 6.25% from 1979 to 1988.
In every decade, alcohol and marijuana had the highest average usage rates since the late ‘70s. From 1979 to 1988, the average usage rate of alcohol was 63.54%. In the ‘90s, the average usage rate was 54.53%, and in the 2000s, the rate was 59.85%. From 2010 to 2017, the usage rate was 59.31%. The cumulative decade-by-decade change for alcohol went down by 7%, meaning that average usage dropped 7% between the ’80s and the 2010s.
Marijuana use also declined cumulatively from 1979 to 2017. From 1979 to 1988, the average usage rate was 18.37%, but from 1990-1999 the usage rate dropped significantly to 10.17%. However, since 1990, there has been an increase over the following two decades. From 2010 to 2017, the average usage rate rose back to 17.81%. Despite this, there are still 3% fewer people using marijuana from 1979-2017.
The final piece of information we wanted to highlight is the change in usage over each decade. From the 1980s to the 1990s, every drug showed a decrease in usage, with some having a decline of almost 10%. By the 2000s, usage of most drugs (excluding sedatives) increased. From 2000 to 2010, there were increases and decreases, with the majority of drugs showing decreased usage. Tranquilizers were the only drug where usage did not increase or decrease.
Some drugs showed a substantial decrease in cumulative change. Average usage rates for sedatives dropped by over 500% and cocaine usage rates dropped by almost 200%, meaning people were over five times less likely to have used sedatives over the past year, and almost two times less likely to use cocaine. Heroin, hallucinogens, and analgesics/pain relievers are the only drugs that have had a cumulative increase in use.
We can see that analgesics/pain relievers have been the most used drug over the past three decades. This can be closely linked to the opioid crisis, which has become extremely prevalent since the increase in opioid prescriptions in the 1990s. Most drugs have had a decrease in usage cumulatively, while heroin, hallucinogens, and analgesics/pain relievers have increased. Alcohol and marijuana use has been decreasing, however, the change has not been substantial. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder, our team has the resources to help.
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It will shock you. It will educate you. It will give you hope. On October 17th, the new PBS series Addiction premiers – and it could very well change your life.
Not only will you hear first-hand stories from people struggling with addiction, you’ll also learn about cutting-edge work of dedicated doctors and scientists who are determined to prove addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition.
5 Reasons to Watch Addiction on PBS
While we’re clearly excited for the premier of this new series, you might be wondering ‘Why should I tune in?’ With that in mind, here’s a list of five reasons every American should watch Addiction.
- #1 Overdose is the number one cause of death for people under 50.
Alarming statistics like this one should cause Americans to sit up and take notice. Our country is in the midst of a crippling crisis of addiction. Opioids alone are killing more than 42,000 people each year. The number of overdose deaths we’re seeing right now is equivalent to a full-flight Boeing 747 crashing in America…every single day. Just let the gravity of that sink in for a minute. Pretty scary, isn’t it?
- #2 Addiction is treatable.
With so much devastation, it might be easy to throw our hands up in defeat and turn our backs on those struggling with addiction. But, addiction is a very treatable illness. People recover from addiction. As the PBS series points out, “The only thing you can’t recover from is death.” With this in mind, we must get past the stigma and work toward offering access to proven treatment methods that will bring people back from the brink of destruction. No one is unreclaimable.
- #3 A super-toxin has hit the streets.
Fentanyl. It’s a powerful, fast-acting painkiller that is 100x more potent than morphine. Abused, this substance is a deadly toxin that is taking out thousands of Americans each year. In 2016, fentanyl was involved in nearly 50% of opioid-related deaths. Learn from this series how poisonous batches of this drug are keeping first-responders on constant call.
- #4 A parent’s worst nightmare is to find their kid not breathing.
Too many families are pretending everything’s okay…when it isn’t. Few families in America remain untouched by addiction in some way. Parents are losing children. Children are losing parents. People of all ages, all races, and all socioeconomic statuses are succumbing to addiction. We’re watching our loved ones die, and we need to learn more about what’s going on and what we can do to stop it.
- #5 We’re facing a dangerous cocktail of biology and medicine.
Our brains are hardwired to seek pleasure. Our medical advances have made a wide variety of substances available that offer this “pleasure.” Too many people find themselves in a downward spiral as biology and medicine mix to form deadly addictions. Learn what doctors are discovering and how their research can help those struggling with addiction.
Don’t miss it: Addiction will air on Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on PBS, premiering October 17th.
Additional Reading: Here’s How the NIMBY Attitude Crushes Recovery Expansion
Image Source: iStock
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