Prescription Drug Abuse Quickest Growing Addiction
Prescription drug abuse is America’s fastest-growing drug problem. Every 19 minutes, someone dies from a prescription drug overdose in the United States, triple the rate in 1990. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkillers (like oxycodone) are largely to blame. More people die from ingesting these drugs than from cocaine and heroin combined.
In 2012, approximately 7 million persons were current users of prescription pain relievers, stimulants, and antidepressants but not for valid medical reasons (2.8 percent of the U.S. population). This class of drugs is broadly described as those targeting the central nervous system, including drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders.
Prescription drug abuse is the intentional use of a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed; or for the experience or feeling it causes. It is not a new problem, but one that deserves renewed attention. For although prescription drugs can be powerful allies, they also pose serious health risks related to their abuse.
The medications most commonly abused are: Pain relievers - 5.1 million; Tranquilizers - 2.2 million; Stimulants - 1.0 million and Sedatives - 0.4 million
Among adolescents, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the frequently abused drugs by high school seniors (excluding tobacco and alcohol).
Nearly 1 in 12 high school seniors reported nonmedical use of Vicodin; 1 in 20 reported abuse of OxyContin. When asked how prescription pain relievers were obtained for nonmedical use, 59 percent of 12th graders said they were given to them by a friend or relative. The number obtaining them over the Internet was negligible.
Among those who abuse prescription drugs, high rates of other risky behaviors, including abuse of other drugs and alcohol, have also been reported.
Abuse of prescription drugs is reportedly America’s fastest-growing drug problem. And, illustrated through the eyes of one user, prescription addicts may be at least as resistant to getting help as persons addicted to alcohol or illicit drugs.
Jake (named changed) was a professional who sought pain relief medication for ongoing injuries suffered from a car collision. Initially, the prescriptions were taken normally, but it was almost impossible not to develop drug dependence on the large dosage prescriptions initially prescribed from his doctor. He received a 3 month, 90 day prescription to take two 40mg Oxycontin pills daily, or as needed.
The pills were helpful, but after about 4 weeks, the pain seemed to continue, even worsen and the only relief came from taking more pills that he was prescribed.
He ran short before the end of the first prescription and went back early for renewal. There was no hesitation on the part of his doctor, because he just shared that the pills were working. He then went to another doctor that same day to receive another prescription for the pain killer so that he would not run out of them early.
This began years of doctor shopping and even prescription pad thievery and forgery. When confronted by friends, he rationalized that the pain is getting worse and these pills are the only things that give me relief. Before he was arrested for forgery, he was taking up to 400 mg of Oxycontin everyday with the pain returning within 12 hours of the last pill.
What Jake did not realize that Opiate based pain relievers can actually begin to cause dependence within 30 days, and this occurs when just following the prescription. As opiate dependence grows, tolerance occurs and more drugs are needed to quell the pain. Many abusers of pain relievers begin simply by following the instructions of their prescription and escalate from there.
The best time to address potential addiction problems is at the earliest possible time. If you are challenged with addictions to pain killers, please seek help today.