Taking prescription drugs in a way that hasn't been recommended by a doctor can be more dangerous than people think. In fact, it's drug abuse. And it's just as illegal as taking street drugs. A 2009 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that prescription drug abuse is on the rise. In this survey 20% of people stated they had taken prescription medications that were not prescribed for them. Prescription drugs should only be taken exactly as directed by a medical professional. That's because a doctor has examined these people and prescribed the right dose of medication for a specific medical condition. Hopefully, the doctor has also told them exactly how they should take the medicine, including things to avoid while taking the drug - such as drinking alcohol or taking other medications. They also should be made aware of the potentially dangerous side effects of the prescribed medications.
Whether they're using street drugs or prescription medications, individuals that abuse drugs often have trouble at school, at home, with friends, or with the law. The likelihood that someone will commit a crime, be a victim of a crime, or have an accident is higher when that person is abusing prescription drugs or in the case of any type of substance abuse. The non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs remains a serious public health concern. The health risks associated with prescription drug abuse vary depending on the drug. For example, abuse of opioids, narcotics and pain relievers can slow or stop breathing. The abuse of depressants, including benzodiazepines and other tranquilizers, barbiturates and other sedatives, can result in seizure, respiratory depression and decreased heart rate. Stimulant abuse can lead to high body temperature, irregular heart rate, cardiovascular system failure and seizure.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall into three general classes: opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants and stimulants. Each class of prescription drug acts on the body in different ways, creating different effects. When the drug is taken properly under the supervision of a physician, these effects serve much less of a significant detriment or risk of addiction to those who need them, although it is possible to become addicted to a prescribed drug. However, irresponsible use, given the potentially pleasant effects of these drugs, increases the risk of prescription drug abuse dramatically.
Some facts about prescription drug abuse came to light in a recent survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):
A 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) survey showed a significant increase in the drug abuse of pain relievers from the previous year. The number of users age 12 or older rose from 33.9 million in 2008 to 39.8 million in 2009. Those medicines noted with particularly significant increases included:
The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that some 29.5 million Americans (8.2 percent of the population) age 12 or older are current illicit drug users. Of this total, 8.3 million abuse prescription drugs (3.7 percent of the population), a figure second only to use of marijuana at 14.6 million (6.2 percent of the population). The NSDUH defines "current" as use of the indicated drug during the month prior to the survey.
The prescription drugs most commonly abused fall into three general classes: opioids (most often prescribed for severe pain), central nervous system depressants (most often prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders) and stimulants (most often prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy and obesity). Preventing the diversion of drugs that treat such a wide variety of disorders is a careful balancing act for physicians, pharmacists and policymakers as they attempt to ensure that prescription drugs are available for those who need them and not for those individuals who want to sell or abuse them. These groups seek to prevent prescription drug abuse and addiction and diversion through a range of methods, from keeping on the lookout for "doctor shoppers," to employing information technology solutions, to requiring greater security at pharmacies and dispensaries.
Individuals who are addicted to prescription drugs can find great hope in a drug rehab center with a good track record in helping people to recover from this addiction. Recovery can be more than just a dream; it happens often when people reach out to a treatment center with a proven track record in helping individuals recover from prescription drug abuse.