ABILENE, Texas - Prescription drug abuse is the number one cause of accidental death in the United States.
Every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental overdose and many of them are in high school. The National Institute on Drug Abuse said 11 percent of young people ages 12 to 25 used prescription drugs non-medically within the last year.
Medical professionals in Abilene said they are concerned by the alarming number of people abusing prescription drugs.
"It's especially growing among our younger people high school and college age," said Hendrick Professional Pharmacy Manager Greg Young
Of the 36,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2008, more than 20,000 involved a prescription drug. That's more than all illicit drug deaths combined.
"Prescription drugs are prescription because they need to have oversight and you need a doctor that's saying, ‘yes, you need this.' You need to go to a pharmacy that's going to dispense them according to the way you need them," said Young.
Turning Point Counseling chemical dependency counselor Vickie Copeland-Zickefoose said she has seen an increase in the number of patients who are abusing prescription drugs. She said many of her clients visit more than one doctor to get multiple prescriptions and she thinks more oversight could cut down on the problem.
"If there could be a program in place where doctors could more easily find out what prescriptions a patient has then maybe they wouldn't prescribe that again," said Copeland-Zickefoose.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse said on their website that when it comes to the most popular drugs for high school seniors, prescription and over-the-counter medications are second only to marijuana.