HAVRE DE GRACE, MD--(Marketwired - Jul 5, 2013) - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday reported that painkiller overdose deaths among women are up 400 percent over the last decade. Scott Dehorty, MSW, LCSW-C, pain recovery specialist and lead clinician of the Pain Recovery Program at the Father Martin's Ashley non-profit treatment center comments on this alarming statistic:

"The recent report from the CDC is just the latest in a trend of increasingly disturbing data relating to the prescription drug epidemic. Those of us in the field of chemical dependency treatment have seen dramatic increases in abuse and overdose for over a decade, but the numbers seem to be growing exponentially. What makes this all the more disturbing is the continued prescribing of, and lack of public awareness of the dangers of, prescription opiates. 

"Despite a tremendous amount of data and evidence, these drugs are continually dispensed at record rates:

  • More people die each year from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine combine
  • More people are dying from prescription drug overdose and related deaths than from motor vehicle accidents 
  • Prescription drugs are second only to marijuana in drugs abused 
  • A recent report stated that 1 in 4 residents of Montana are prescribed opiates

"One of the issues surrounding the abuse of and dependence on prescription drugs is that the public views them as not as harmful as illicit drugs. Most young adults start using prescriptions simply by opening the medicine cabinet at home. People would be shocked to find heroin or cocaine in the medicine cabinet, yet prescription drugs, which are far more fatal, are readily available. 

"There should be a public outcry to curb the prescribing of these medications. There also must be greater education regarding chronic pain and opiate-induced hyperalgesia, which is the syndrome that occurs when opiates become ineffective and can actually increase sensitivity to pain. 

"When patients come to Father Martin's Ashley and learn their opiates are exacerbating rather than treating pain, it is difficult for them to believe it. However, once tapered off their opiates as part of an overall treatment plan, they usually find their pain substantially reduced and, in some cases, completely gone. The patients in the Pain Recovery Program have not been previously informed that these medications can lead to increased pain and that the danger of developing dependency and overdosing is so high. They have been under the impression that 'more pain means they need more medications.' When they leave the program they understand 'less medication, less pain' and that there are other treatment approaches that are far more effective in minimizing their discomfort and reducing other health risks.

"We want to get the word out that treatment works and there is help available if you or someone you love are addicted to pain medications. We encourage people to ask their physician if the drug they are being prescribed is an opiate or benzodiazapine and if so, if there is another alternative to these addictive medications."

Scott Dehorty, MSW, LCSW-C is a Pain Recovery Specialist and lead clinician with the Father Martin's Ashley Pain Recovery Program. Scott has worked in the field of addiction since 1997. He holds a B.A. in psychology as well as a Masters in Social Work and an LCSW-C certification. Scott joined Ashley in 2012. Previously, he was a member of the Pain Treatment Program team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

ABOUT FATHER MARTIN'S ASHLEY: Father Martin's Ashley is a nationally-recognized leader in the treatment of alcoholism and chemical dependence. Accredited by The Joint Commission and located on a 147-acre campus in Havre de Grace, Maryland, Father Martin's Ashley has, since being co-founded by Father Joseph C. Martin, S.S. -- a priest in recovery from alcoholism -- in 1983, worked to heal addicts and help their families with the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the support of holistic and mutual-help practices. Father Martin's Ashley is a division of Ashley, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, that has treated more than 37,000 patients, offering inpatient addiction, alcoholism and pain with drug dependency treatment, as well as sobriety enrichment, DWI, and family and children's educational programs.