Prescription Drug Abuse

A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health was released recently with an alarming but not surprising find: prescription drug abuse has risen in recent years. The problem is now bigger than the abuse issues of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and LSD. It is now considered America’s biggest drug abuse problem next to marijuana.

The numbers speak for themselves; in this same survey it showed that people using cocaine were down at 1.5 million from 2 million in 2002 and 5.8 million in the mid-1980s. Other drugs such as methamphetamine displayed a similar trend. With the fall of these statistics comes a shocking find. The same National Survey on Drug Use and Health concluded that there were 7 million users of “psychotherapeutics” in 2010. Also, out of the 36,450 overdose deaths in the United States, a shocking 20,044 of those were connected to prescription drugs. This is a figure higher than all other illicit drugs put together.  In addition, the number of prescriptions filled for opioid pain relievers, which are some of the most powerful drugs on the market, have recently increased tremendously. That’s not the only thing that has increased.  The milligram-per-person use of these prescription opioids in the U.S. has gone from 74 milligrams to a shocking 369 milligrams.  That is an unbelievable increase of 402 percent.

Why Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are simply easier to come by. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that over 70 percent of people that were abusing prescription pain relievers had obtained them from friends or relatives as oppose to the 5 percent who got them from a drug dealer or over the internet.  More than three out of four people who misuse prescription painkillers use drugs prescribed to someone else. There is also the false conception that prescription drugs are not harmful because they are prescribed by trusted doctors and given out by pharmacists.  Prescription painkillers work by fastening to receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain and by doing so create a feeling of euphoria. These types of drugs   can cause physical dependence and my lead to addiction in some people. Someone who is abusing prescription painkillers may take a larger dosage in order to achieve a more euphoric effect and lessen withdrawal symptoms. These higher dosages are dangerous because they can cause breathing to slow down so much that breathing stops, resulting in a fatal overdose.

Prescription Drugs Becoming New Gateway Drug

A survey taken in 2009 reported that one third of people age 12 and older, while using drugs for the first time, used a prescription drug, non-medically. Another recent survey showed that 2.5 million new teen substance abusers began using with prescription drugs. A study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control showed that visits to the ER having to do with the misuse of prescription pain relievers more than doubled between 2004 and 2008. It is clear that prescription drugs may be quickly becoming the new gateway drug over marijuana and alcohol.

Rehabilitation centers nationwide have seen an increase in admissions for prescription drug abuse. Some centers are very successful in treating the problem while others fall short. One of the most important things to remember when treating prescription abuse is that the program is long term and lasts at least 4-6 months. The other is that the treatment is completely drug free. Because of the underlying addiction using other prescriptions to treat prescription abuse is never a good idea.
For more information on successful rehabilitation for prescription drug abuse contact us today.

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