Prescription drug abuse and addiction is major problem affecting millions of individuals with a growing demand for drug rehabilitation, but there is not much awareness about the magnitude of the problem. Because the nation has a major problem with other illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, crack prescription drug abuse has not been a major priority for both the health and legal professionals.
Even though many of these prescription drugs have beneficial uses in clinical medicine, for some unknown reason(s), the abuse of a wide variety of prescription drugs will soon surpass smoking as the number one health problem in America. Hundreds of internet sites sell these drugs without a prescription. These drugs may relieve anxiety and pain, but when abused they can be lethal and just as addictive as other illicit drugs like cocaine.
Obtaining prescription drugs for abuse is not difficult and there are various means of obtaining the drugs. This includes:
- multiple Doctor shopping
- forged prescriptions
- via Illegal online pharmacies
- Theft and burglary (from hospitals, residences, pharmacies)
- obtaining prescription from family and friends
- Over prescribing by physicians
- Unscrupulous physicians selling drugs
The prescription drug abuse and signs or symptoms displayed by a person depend on what substances the person has abused. A person who has not abused drugs extensively may experience unpleasant symptoms and may seek help from family members and friends. Chronic drug abusers generally know what to expect from their drug use and rarely seek help for themselves.
Most agents cause a change in level of consciousness, usually a decrease in responsiveness. Suppression of brain activity can be so severe that the person may stop breathing, which can cause death. Alternatively, the person may be agitated, anxious, and unable to sleep. Hallucinations are possible.
The following information shows the prescription drug abuse statistics:
• Over the past decade-and-a-half, the number of teen and young adult (ages 12 to 25) new abusers of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin) or hydrocodone has grown five-fold (from 400,000 in the mid-eighties to 2 million in 2000).
• New misusers of tranquilizers such as diazepam or alprazolam medicine normally used to treat anxiety or tension-went up nearly 50 percent in one year (700,000 in 1999 to 1 million in 2000).
• More than 17 percent of adults over 60, wittingly or not, abuse prescription drugs.
• In 2000, more than 19 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs were filled, a 72 percent increase since 1995. An estimated 3 to 5 percent of school-age children have ADHD. A study of students in Wisconsin and Minnesota showed 34 percent of ADHD youth age 11 to 18 report being approached to sell or trade their medicines, such as Ritalin.
• Among 12- to 17-year-olds, girls are more likely than boys to use psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically.
Prevention Alert is supported by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and may be copied without permission with appropriate citation.
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