Eye on Health: Drug Poisoning - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Eye on Health: Drug Poisoning

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Nearly two thousand times a day, every day, someone in this country is rushed to a hospital for a drug related poisoning.

They are victims of a drug epidemic unlike any other before in this country and a new study is adding up it's staggering costs.

"Almost 700,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments each year for drug-related poisoning, costing $1.4 billion dollars in ER charges alone," says Dr. Gary Smith.

Doctor Smith led the study. He says unlike other epidemics, this one isn't playing out in our cities, but is poisoning people at a rate three times higher in rural areas.

Misuse of prescription drugs by adults is the main cause of the epidemic, but children are at risk too.

"Children 5 years and younger was the age group that had the highest visit rate to the emergency department for unintentional drug poisoning," says Dr. Smith.

Children like 3 year old Ethan Woodcox.

"He came into the room and said that his mouth was hot. And my husband and I just thought that it was Valentine's candy, the cinnamon hearts, fire balls." says Ethan's Mom, Lisa Woodcox.

What actually happened was Ethan climbed up the bookshelf, and ate a handful of his brothers prescription medicine.

A scene that is common as more prescriptions than ever are written.

From 1997 to 2005, sales or painkillers made with oxycodone shot up nearly 600 percent, sales of methadone are up more than 900 percent. And after a scare with her child, Woodcox has made some drastic changes.

"We now have a lock box and a key, the key is kept in a separate place from the lock box and all the prescription medications are kept inside the lock box." says Woodcox.

Good advice, considering how common these drugs are and how easy they are to get.

Experts say medicines for psychological conditions also pose a risk. They recommend putting all your prescription drugs under lock and key.

If you have leftover pills, crush and mix them materials you wouldn't ingest, like coffee grounds, then throw them away.

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