HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Prescription drug abuse has become so out of control that The White House has launched a billion-dollar plan to address the problem. 129 people will die on this day along and an estimated 129 people will die every day for the rest of the year of a drug overdose, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. President Obama's administration has announced an effort to try to eliminate this epidemic including setting aside more funding for drug treatment.
FOX 26 News witnessed DEA agents in Houston load more than 14,000 pounds of prescription drugs onto 18-wheeler trucks. The narcotics were collected on Saturday on the streets as part of the DEA drug take back day.
"More people are dying from overdose of drugs in America than they are from car accidents,” reveals Houston DEA Special Agent Wendell Campbell, who explains that the level of prescription drug abuse is skyrocketing. "There’s more people abusing prescription drugs than there are people abusing cocaine, heroine and hallucinogenics combined."
In fact, according to the DEA, 1.4 million people in the U.S. abused a prescription pain killer for the first time in 2014.
"America consumes 99 percent of the Hydrocodone made in the world and we’re only 5 percent of the world’s population," says Special Agent Campbell. "We have a pill epidemic in our nation.”
Who's taking these drugs and dying from them?
"These people are our friends, our family members, our colleagues, people we work with, go to church with, socialize with," says Special Agent Campbell. "These are the people dying every day from drug addiction."
In addition to the President's plan to pound out prescription drug abuse, the DEA has new efforts focusing on three areas enforcing, educating and encouraging parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of drugs.
A DEA anti-drug video entitled "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict" is powerful to watch. It includes real people who really want to stop others from becoming addicts too.
"I took two, had my glass of wine and all of a sudden it triggered something in my brain and I would say I became addicted that day,” explains one woman in the video.
"I started taking three at a time, then I was taking four at a time then I started taking six at a time,” admits an even younger woman.
"Our investigations have shown where, when college kids show up and even high school kids show up at certain parties there’s a bowl of pills when you walk in the door and you just grab one and you don’t even know what it is,” explains Special Agent Campbell.
"Then a girlfriend of mine introduced me to heroin," adds the first woman. "I could get a whole lot more for a whole lot less.”
Special Agent Campbell says prescription pill abusers typically turn to heroin because it's less expensive and he says both are equally as dangerous and as addictive but he says drugs bought on the street come with an added danger.
“The user is dealing with what’s it been cut with, what’s been added to it," says Special Agent Campbell. "What’s in it? You don’t know for sure".
You can watch the full video on YouTube. It's called Chasing The Dragon. Special Agent Campbell is encouraging parents to view the video, then watch it with their children and discuss it. He says a recent survey of Americans as young as 12 years old reveals more and more people are abusing prescription drugs.
"6.5 million people responded to the survey saying, within the last month they had abused prescription drugs," says Agent Campbell. "It’s a society problem that we’ve all got to work together to address because somewhere along the way it’s just become ok to use these drugs.”
If you're abusing drugs and need help quitting, visit http://www.dea.gov/index.shtml for resources.