Prescription drug abuse is no longer a passing trend in our country. The problem continues to rise and citizens, lawmakers, and doctors need to take note of it and work to stop this problem from growing.
Some statistics help put this problem into perspective:
The nonmedical use and abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing drug problem in the nation, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (1)
The number of overdoses by prescription drugs has doubled in the U.S. in the last decade, and has been declared an epidemic by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1)
A 400% surge of the numbers of persons who were entering treatment for misusing painkillers. At that time the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) had that over six million Americans had been admitted for medication abuse. (2)
The University of Michigan Ann Arbor reveals one in five teens that receive prescription painkillers and other controlled substance medications from practitioners are overdosing on the substances. (2)
Ten percent of the children use these medications to get high. (2)
Consequences of Prescription Drug Abuse
While many people think that prescription drug abuse is a problem with few consequences, many people who become addicted to the medications begin to have problems just like any other drug addict. They can become abusive, neglectful, irresponsible, and will do anything, including stealing and finding other drastic ways to get their drugs. Overdoses are common, and injury or death can be a result of prescription drug abuse.
Teens Abusing Prescription Drugs
Children are also abusing prescription drugs. Teens commonly trade pills from either their own supply or that of a parent or relative with friends or classmates. Abusing prescription drugs at a young age makes these teens more prone to illegal drug abuse, binge drinking, and smoking as they get older than other teens.
We know we have a problem on our hands. Now the question is what to do about it. Education continues to be important. Many people, teens and adults, feel that self-medicating or experimenting with prescription drugs is harmless because they are prescribed by a doctor, and somehow that makes it seem safer. More people need to understand that abusing prescription drugs is just as harmful as using illegal substances.
Better monitoring of patients is also necessary to curb the prescription drug problem. We don’t want to deny people the pain relief they really need, and prescription painkillers provide necessary relief to many people. Increased screening and monitoring by physicians will help, as well as prescription databases that keep track of who is getting prescriptions filled. In some cases, different types of pain management, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care, can be used. Finally, the general public needs to be aware of the problem and parents should keep their prescription meds locked up in order to keep them out of the wrong hands.