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Dr. Drew On Call

Driven by current events, "Dr. Drew" on HLN focuses on the human - and human behavior - at the center of the story.

Pill popping: RX for death

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Pill popping: RX for death

On Tuesday night, HLN’s Dr. Drew and his guests discussed a huge problem that’s afflicting our nation - a problem that may have taken the life of Whitney Houston - the prescription pill epidemic.

“I get frustrated when I hear people say she`s a former addict,” HLN host Jane Velez-Mitchell told Dr. Drew. “'Oh, she was off hard drugs. She was only drinking. She was OK.’ It`s just the wrong information. You can`t be a former addict.”

Dr. Drew added, “There`s a part of your brain below consciousness - below your reasoning center - below your feeling center - in the center of the brain. It`s an area called the medial forebrain bundle that sets up drives like survival and hunger and those kinds of things. That drive becomes distorted in addiction.”

He continued, “It`s much more active when you`re using [drugs], and then all the distortions occurs. It settles down a little bit when you maintain your sobriety every day.”

Velez-Mitchell noted that it`s an uncontrollable craving that takes over, which can be triggered by one drug.

Dr. Drew stated, “My patients with addiction die of prescription drug death every day. The death from prescription medication exceeds cocaine and heroin deaths combined ... It is pandemic.”

He later said, “Most medical professionals receive minimal training about addiction. As a result, doctors may be prescribing medication without fully understanding the potential devastating effects.”

What do you think we can do now to put the brakes on this run-away train that’s killing tens of thousands each year?

You can hear much more of this important conversation in the video clip above.

Be sure to watch Dr. Drew weeknights at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on HLN and follow the show on Twitter @DrDrewHLN.

Editor’s Note: For complete coverage of Whitney Houston's death, tune into HLN. On Saturday, watch HLN for live coverage of Houston’s funeral at noon ET. All this week, tune to HLN’s Nancy Grace at 8 p.m. ET, live from Hollywood, for up-to-the-minute details surrounding Houston's death, followed by Dr. Drew at 9 p.m. ET with more on Houston's battles with addiction.

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