Prescription drug abuse and alcohol use can start when a person is experiencing mental or emotional problems and seek relief through numbing their feelings by drinking and taking medication. Many types of prescription drugs when mixed with other drugs or alcohol, produces different and sometimes enjoyable effects that the troubled person is looking for. Alcohol is most commonly used in combination with prescription drugs because alcohol enhances the effects of prescription drugs and makes the user feel better than he/she would have if either the alcohol or pills were used alone.
The combination of prescription drug abuse and alcohol is very popular, but it can also produce very harmful and even fatal effects in a person's body. The user's body has a difficult time processing all of the chemicals and toxins simultaneously and always has the possibility of rejecting the drug mixture and shutting down completely. Prescription drug abusers that have developed a high tolerance and mix these drugs with alcohol may overdose or die.
Some pills that are commonly associated with prescription drug abuse and alcohol use are Percocet, Xanax, Valium, Adderall and many others. Each prescription drug has certain side effects that can negatively affect the user, but they have one thing in common - they can lead to addiction.
One group that is very susceptible to prescription drug abuse and alcohol misuse is the elderly. Depression is a major complaint of older people. Many physicians will prescribe an anti-depressant medication for a person and once they begin to feel a little better, some may think that if more is taken then they will feel better quicker.
Teenagers are among the largest group with prescription drug abuse and alcohol use problems. Back in the year 2000, there was an estimated 2 million new prescription drug abusers in this age group. OxyContin and Vicodin are the most widely misused prescription drugs within this age group. Many young people have heard that certain prescription medication will make a person lose weight, feel better about themselves and even have more fun. They feel that since these were prescribed by a physician they are less likely to be addictive than illegal drugs.
According to a recent study on prescription drug abuse and alcohol, one in five US high school students said they had abused prescription drugs, such as OxyContin and Percocet. The study, performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that Caucasian teens were the most likely to admit they had abused prescription drugs, with 23 percent saying they had used drugs such as Xanax, Ritalin, Percocet or OxyContin, without a prescription from a doctor.
Seventeen percent of Hispanic teens said they had abused prescription drugs, while 12 percent of African-American teens admitted to abusing the medications. The 2009 study surveyed 16,000 US high school students and found that nearly 75 percent of US teens have also used alcohol, 37 percent have used marijuana, a little more than 6 percent used cocaine and 4 percent have used methamphetamine.
The CDC's division of adolescent and school health director, Howell Wechsler said: "Some people may falsely believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs yet their misuse can cause serious adverse health effects, including addiction and death."
The survey monitored six "priority health-risk behaviors," including illegal drug, prescription drug abuse and alcohol abuse, which contributes to the four main causes of death of US teens: Motor vehicle deaths (30 percent), unintentional injury (16 percent), homicide (16 percent), and suicide (12 percent). Nearly 10 percent of young adults and teens also admitted to driving a car after drinking alcohol, and 28 percent said they had been a passenger in a car driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.
Besides drugs, alcohol, and prescription medication abuse, nearly one in five students said they had carried a gun, knife, or club at least once in the 30 days before the survey was conducted. Six percent of those say they had also taken a weapon onto school property. Caucasian boys were the most likely to say they had carried a weapon -- about 29 percent. Hispanics made up 26 percent and African-Americans made up 21 percent of those who had carried a gun.
The study also found that nearly 33 percent of the students surveyed had been in a physical confrontation in the last 12 months, and one in 10 had experienced physical violence by a date, boyfriend or girlfriend. The survey, which comes from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), conducted the study every other year since 1991. This last survey, in 2009, was the first time the question about prescription drug abuse and alcohol use was asked.