Prescription Drug Abuse Continues to Escalate

Prescription Drug Abuse Continues to Escalate
In the wake of Michael Jackson‘s death, there has been increased dialogue concerning the problem of prescription drug addiction. In the death of Anna-Nicole Smith, charges have been bought against two doctors for knowingly supplying an addict with addicting prescriptions.

In the past year, prescription drug addiction to painkillers has now ranked as the Nation’s number two illegal drug problem behind marijuana. Intentional abuse of prescription dugs has been on a steady rise amongst teens and young adults. It is often said, however, that the very rich and famous, and the poor receive the worst medical services; as the rich and famous can often buy whatever they want, and the poor never receive what they actually need.

For most people, it starts off innocently enough. A prescription is filled for some ailment that has caused pain or sleeplessness or anxiety. If properly prescribed and used, the treatment works wonderfully. But if used improperly, it can lead to drug dependence, and the abuse of said prescriptions.

Many start off innocently enough, then find themselves becoming addicted to the feeling that the prescription provides. Long after symptoms have ceased, and the need for the drug dissipates; many will have found that they have become addicted. Some people begin their addiction by improper use of their prescription by not following prescribed doses. Some start off by taking more doses, more frequently than prescribed by their physician.

Then there are the physicians that knowingly supply their patients with prescriptions, knowing that they [patients] have become dependent on said drugs. It is deplorable and criminal to knowingly supply patients with drugs, when you are aware of any addiction, or after monetary gain.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) research report Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction, there are three classes of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused:(1)

opioids, which are most often prescribed to treat pain—examples include: codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet), and morphine (Kadian and Avinza);
central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders—examples include: barbiturates (Mebaral and Nembutal) and benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax);
stimulants, which are prescribed to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obesity—examples include:
dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta).

Prescription drug abuse has become a national problem that continues to plague many families and communities. Another problem with prescription drug abuse is the easy access to such drugs. Prescription drugs has become highly marketable on the streets and amongst students; Not only in High Schools and Colleges, but now also in Intermediate schools and the playground. Many lifting the medication from their parents medicine cabinets, while many parents remain unaware, as some are too addicted themselves to notice.

There needs to be dialogue between physicians, patients, pharmacists, insurance providers. Responsibility needs to be taken on all sides. Too many people are falling through the cracks, and lives are being lost, not only due to addiction, but to the criminal behavior of some physicians, and the irresponsibility of many people when it comes to using and disposing of prescription drugs.

Many people can benefit from the proper use of prescription drugs. However, there is a fine line when people begin to misuse their prescription painkillers. It can become highly addictive and dangerous; just as dangerous as illegal drugs, as heroin and cocaine. Prescription drugs should only be used as prescribed by a medical professional.

(1). National Institute on Drug Abuse, Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction, August 2005

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