Every year, thousands of people across the United States die from overdosing on prescription drugs. This happens when people use prescription medications wrongly and intentionally. Just as with illegal drugs, many legitimate medications can cause adverse effects and addiction. This guide will help introduce the issue of prescription drug abuse, along with its risks, causes and possible treatments.
Prescription Drugs Pose a Major Problem
In the United States, recent statistics have shown that nearly 7 million people were using psychotherapeutic medications wrongly. After this, some of the other most commonly abused medications include pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives. More alarmingly, many users tend to be college age or younger. Studies show that people who abuse prescription medications are more likely to later go on to abuse other substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs.
What Causes Prescription Drug Abuse?
There are several factors that motivate prescription drug abuse. One of the most common is that people do not realize how dangerous prescription medication is. A popular misconception is that a medication may be safe simply because a doctor prescribes it. Easy availability and access also makes it more likely for people to abuse prescription medication. Additional reasons typically include wanting to feel intoxicated or high, to help combat insomnia or pain or to increase sensory perception or mental alertness.
Potential Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Each category of prescription drugs comes with its own set of risks. Opioids such as OxyContin or Vicodin are painkillers that can lead to extreme addiction and death. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Ativan are usually used to treat anxiety or sometimes insomnia. When benzos are misused, they can also lead to addiction, seizures upon sudden withdrawal, and acute respiratory issues due to overdosing. Finally, stimulants such as Ritalin can cause addiction, seizures, forms of psychosis and problems with the cardiovascular system.
A common treatment includes a combination of behavioral counseling coupled with non-addictive counter-medications. For example, Suboxone has been found to help many people lower their abuse of pain relievers. Another drug, Vivitrol, helps opioid addicts to recover.
Statistics and Risks – Browse through statistics of prescription drug abuse in college and learn the risks.