You may have recently read about Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans whose untimely death was caused by “acute hydromorphone intoxication” and “chronic pain syndrome” according to the death certificate. The story is incomplete and may never be complete–but, clearly, this talented performer died as a result of taking a powerful painkiller, perhaps without a prescription. Even more recently, pop superstar Michael Jackson died at age 50 in his Los Angeles home from cardiac arrest with the autopsy results pending at this time. News reports stated that he was taking “drugs from prescriptions acquired from multiple doctors.” Stories included information from “sources” stating that he took “straight morphine, Demerol and opiates like Oxycontin. He also takes Valium and Xanax.” Propophyl, a powerful anesthetic has also been implicated as a cause of his death. It would seem obvious from news reports that Mr. Jackson suffered from addiction. Within the last year, we also lost Heath Ledger to an overdose of the opiate painkiller Oxycontin, anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. And a year before that, Anna Nicole Smith overdosed and died on a combination of anti-anxiety medications and pain killers, specifically methadone. I can only wonder how many others of lesser celebrity status have died from overdoses of these drugs. There is an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in this country. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found in a 2003 survey of eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders that 10.5% of twelfth graders reported using Vicodin for non-medical reasons and 4.5% of twelfth graders reported using Oxycontin without a prescription in the past year. In 2006, 16.2 million Americans age twelve and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. …..