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Michele Beam

CTAC 124
Professor Smith
Persuasive Speech

I. Introduction
A. Brett Favre, Rush Limbaugh, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson. What do
they have in common? They were all addicted to prescription drugs at one
time. You don’t have to answer this, but how many of you knew someone
from high school who abused painkillers or prescription drugs? I did, and
I’m sure everyone here knows at least one person who did.
B. Topic Statement: Prescription drug abuse, especially the abuse of
painkillers, is an issue that is all-too-prevalent today, as our nation
becomes more and more dependent on medication.
C. Credibility Statement: Through my studies of data and statistics by
various branches of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, I have
come to more deeply understand this epidemic that is sweeping our
nation. Not only have I analyzed numerical data, I have also investigated
many stories about the pros and cons of prescription drugs, and about
cases where these drugs were abused.
D. Main Points: I firmly believe that Americans are becoming overly reliant on
pharmaceutical drugs, to the point of abusing them. I’m going to share
with you a variety of statistics, what they mean, and reasons why
prescription drugs should be avoided.

II. Body
A. Basic Facts
1. Painkillers are the kind of prescription drug that are most commonly
abused. The most popular drugs are codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin, and
2. Other medications include Valium, Xanax, Dexadrine, Ritalin, and
Adderall, to name a few.
A. Statistics
1. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 7 million Americans
abused prescription drugs in 2006. In 2008, this number grew to 15.2
million. This is nearly a 50% increase in a two year period.
2. The trend of taking painkillers for nonmedical purposes is increasing
most in the 18-26 age and the 26 and older groups, which is where we
3. Among children aged 12-17, almost 12% of the population surveyed
said they had used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes.
4. Talking more specifically about painkillers, Opiod painkillers, like
Vicodin, OxyContin, and Demerol cause more drug overdoses than
heroin and cocaine combined. The abuse of painkillers represents 3/4
of all prescription drug abuse.
5. About one quarter of all drug-related hospital visits were caused by
overdoses on prescription drugs.
6. Even more shocking, 40% of people believe that prescription
medications are safer to use than illegal drugs. 31% agreed that it was
acceptable to use medical drugs for nonmedical purposes occasionally.
7. These numbers prove that the abuse of prescription drugs is a rapidly
growing trend in our country and as the younger generation’s drug of
choice. This epidemic must be stopped, for many reasons.

A. Reasons to avoid taking prescription medication

1. Many people disagree with my choice to not partake of pharmaceutical
drugs, but I have a variety of reasons why I chose this path.
2. First of all, these drugs have a wide array of undesirable side-effects.
a. The side-effects of OxyContin, verified by the FDA include:
nausea, vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite; dizziness,
headache, tired feeling; dry mouth; sweating; itching; shallow
breathing, slow heartbeat; seizure (convulsions); cold, clammy
skin; confusion; severe weakness or dizziness; or feeling light-
headed, fainting.
b. The side-effects of Vicodin, verified by the FDA, include: feeling
anxious, dizzy, or drowsy; mild nausea, vomiting, upset
stomach, constipation; headache, mood changes; blurred vision;
ringing in your ears; or dry mouth; shallow breathing, slow
heartbeat; feeling light-headed, fainting; confusion, fear,
unusual thoughts or behavior; seizure (convulsions); problems
with urination; or nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, itching,
dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or
c. The side-effects of Valium, verified by the FDA include:
drowsiness, tired feeling; dizziness, spinning sensation; blurred
vision; sleep problems (insomnia), nightmares; muscle
weakness, lack of balance or coordination; slurred speech;
nausea, vomiting, constipation; headache, memory problems;
drooling or dry mouth; skin rash; loss of interest in sex;
confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; unusual risk-taking
behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger; depressed
mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself; hyperactivity,
anxiety, agitation, hostility; double vision, hallucinations; weak
or shallow breathing; feeling faint; muscle twitching, tremors;
fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms; jaundice (yellowing of
the skin or eyes); or urinating less than usual or not at all.
d. It doesn’t take a medical expert to see that the side-effects
greatly outweigh the benefits of this drug. To me, all of these
crazy side effects sound just like being under the influence of
alcohol or illegal drugs like marijuana or cocaine.
3. Most of these drugs are very easy to get addicted to, according to Dr.
Aaron Filler, a Harvard graduate.
a. You would be surprised at what kind of medications are
considered “narcotic.” The list includes: codeine, aspirin,
Tylenol, ibuprofen, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, and several
more that I’ve never heard of. These all have a moderate to high
risk for addiction, as they are all based on opium.
4. Prescription drugs have more man-made chemicals in them than can
be listed or discussed. Basically, you are intrusting your health and
safety to science, which is definitely not perfect or stable. I’m not
comfortable with doing this, and I don’t know about all of you, but after
reading all of these statistics, I’m even more skeptical than I was
5. The mortality rates for prescription drug overdoses and reactions are
disturbingly high. About 200,000 Americans die a year from overdoses,
which amounts to 20% of Detroit’s population dying over the course of
a year. About 8,928 Medicare patients die a year from adverse drug
reactions, which are accidental deaths from prescription drugs. If that
doesn’t convince you that prescription drugs are dangerous, then I
don’t know what will.

III. Conclusion
A. After examining and compiling statistics and data then analyzing it, I have
become even more sure that the use of prescription drugs is an epidemic
that America must be cured of. You can avoid addiction, side effects, and
in serious situations, death by steering clear of these harmful substances.
B. I hope that you are more enlightened about prescription drug abuse and
the reasons why you should avoid using these medications, and I hope
that you will use caution if you must use them in the future.

Death by Medicine by Dr. Gary Null