Street drugs a prescription for drug abuse

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Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Businesses spend considerable time and money naming the products they send forth in the world.

Parents? Not so much.

As soon as I heard the name “Reality Leigh Winner” — the young Georgia woman charged with leaking top-secret information to the press — I knew she would finally get the attention her parents so clearly craved.

Multiple black eyes have taught me it’s wrong to poke fun at people for things they can’t control like their name or how they vote, but, as Gordon Solie or any professional wrestler would tell you, a memorable name really enthuses a crowd.

Remember the fellow accused of burning down I-85? Basil Eleby sounds like the name of a chef or Bruce Wayne’s butler, but it sticks in the brain.

Creating a name that is both memorable and unique isn’t easy. All the cool names have been taken.

The most common criminal name in Georgia, according to a survey of mugshots, is “Willie.” That’s as good a name as any but modern parents can do better.

I don’t watch much TV, but when I do I am besieged by pharmaceutical ads intent on providing names for a new generation of customers.

How often, I’ve wondered, does an expectant mother watch a commercial and consider naming their child “Latuda” or “Lunesta?”

A Google search of “most-advertised drugs” gives us the pleasant monikers “Lyrica,” “Victoza” and “Invokana,” which sounds like it could be the president’s grandchild.

Need a strong male name? Consider “Paxil, “Actos” or “Zocor.” The last one is perfect if you envision your son someday fighting Superman.

Prescription drugs sound nice, but they can be more dangerous than someone who lights fires under bridges or has access to top-secret documents and a copying machine.

At least four people died recently in Georgia after taking “yellow pills” being sold on the street as the pain medication Percocet.

Drug overdose, not heart disease or cancer, is the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

In 2016, about 60,000 Americans died from overdoses of illegal and prescription drugs. That exceeds the peak number ever killed in car crashes (54,000 in 1972) or shootings (39,000 in 1993).

In the Deep South, the overdose death rate is lowest in Georgia and Mississippi, says the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, so, on a relative scale, maybe Willie’s not that bad a guy.

After almost a minute of careful analysis, I concluded the states where overdose deaths are highest don’t have beaches. West Virginia leads the nation with 41.5 fatal overdoses per 100,000 residents. Georgia’s rate, 12.7, ranks 13th best nationally.

The single most fatal drug is heroin, but more deaths are caused by misused prescription opioids like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.

The most abused illegal drug in the U.S.? Marijuana, aka “ganja, “dope,” “bubonic chronic” and “kind bud.”

How many people has the vexing street weed killed? That’s debatable, but the argument starts at zero.


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