Upper Nyack, N.Y. — At New Year's Eve parties in homes around the country, party guests with drug dependencies will be scavenging through medicine cabinets looking for narcotics, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety medications when they make seemingly innocent trips to the bathroom, says Louis Tharp, executive director of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, a patient advocacy non-profit organization.
According to 2008 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 35 million Americans aged 12 and older reported nonmedical use of prescription opioids. "When you add in mental health drugs, the number could rise to 15 percent of the population," Tharp says. "The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says prescription pain killer abuse is second only behind marijuana as the nation's most prevalent illegal drug problem."
Dr. Jeff Gudin, MD, a Yale-trained director of Pain Management and Palliative Care at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, NJ, cautions people about leaving any prescription medication out. And by Gudin's definition, "out" absolutely includes being left in a medicine cabinet when a party is going on.
"Real estate agents know to empty the medicine cabinet for open houses, but a lot of people throw a party for guests they may not know well, and never consider prescription drug theft," he adds.