More About the Huge Problem of Prescription Drug Addiction

As was highlighted in a recent blog here, the growing problem of prescription drug addiction in the USA is just as serious – even more serious – as the abuse of illegal drugs.

Examining Prescription Drug Abuse Through Statistics

Heroin word cloud glowingStatistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)  indicate that prescription drug addiction is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. In a bid to help educate the public more widely, NIDA even had a competition for people to create info-graphics that outlined the statistics clearly. Here is just a taste of those stats.

  • 52 million Americans aged over 12 have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.
  • The USA has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 75% of the prescription drugs.
  • 54.2% of prescription drug addicts have someone else obtain the drugs for them.
  • 62% of teens who have used them did so because they can get them easily from their parents’ medicine cabinets.
  • 51% of teens said they got into them because they are not illegal and are available everywhere.
  • 50% of teens said the drugs were easy to obtain through someone else’s prescription. 49% said they could pretend to have a prescription if they are caught.
  • 25% of teens said they can use prescription drugs to help them study, while almost as many said their parents won’t care as much because they’re not “hard” drugs.
  • People think there is less stigma attached to using prescription drugs.

The Addictive Nature of Prescription Drugs

Prescription medications are perceived as “soft” drugs that are not as hazardous or addictive as the “hard” ones.

Not true. Their power cannot be underestimated. They alter the chemical balance of the brain and it takes a lot to overcome that.

Opioid painkillers (like Morphine, Demerol, Oxycodone/Oxycontin) are derived from opium – the same stuff from which heroin is processed. They affect dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine is associated with the brain’s processing of pleasure and reward. The brain – and thus the body – can become dependent on opidoids in no time.

While tranquilizers/sedatives (Valium, Xanax, Nembutal, etc.) and stimulants (Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall, etc.) may not affect a person exactly the same way as opioids, they also activate dopamine receptors and cause dependency and addiction through repeated use.

Stop Taking Your Prescription Medication When You Feel Better

Your Recovery Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.Prescription medication is supposed to be consumed only for as long as needed to help resolve a medical problem.

Dosage should reduce with improvement and be stopped entirely when the problem is over. Indeed, prescriptions themselves are issued in limited dosages.

However, because of the assistance they provide during a health problem, some people become conditioned that feeling good or normal occurs only when using the drugs. In a bid to get more drugs to maintain those feelings, some lie to their doctors about continued symptoms, or else seek a different doctor, and start to abuse the medication in higher doses than prescribed.

This pattern of escalation to maintain the same “high” is very much the same as occurs with addiction to illegal drugs.

How to Get Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

Any form of addiction is likely to damage not only the life of an addict, but also the lives of the addict’s loved ones.

If you or a loved one is having a problem with prescription drugs, seek help from friends, family and also a professional helpline service. Talk to people who understand the problem of prescription drug addiction and who will offer you the best advice on available treatments.

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