Abusing Rx drugs can kill

December 7, 2009 by  
Filed under ADDICTION, Featured

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pills burningMany people do not start taking prescription drugs in order to get high. There are many valid reasons to take them: to ease pain, to help fall asleep, or to ease depressive symptoms. Unfortunately, long-term use of these drugs presents a very serious risk – addiction.

As an example in this USA Today report, a woman who took the painkiller drug Percocet for rheumatoid arthritis for 10 years developed dependence for the drug. What started as a normal daily dose progressed to six or seven pills a day.  The pills not only eased her chronic pain, it gives her an energy boost that brings a feeling of high.

There are those, however, who abuse prescription drugs with the aim to get high and these are mostly teenagers and young adults.

Thus, here comes a hidden but serious epidemic in many developed countries: prescription drug abuse.

According to figures from the US Department of Health and Services:

As previously posted here, prescription drug abuse is on the rise and ranks second only to marijuana abuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are painkillers, particularly those that contain opioid compounds. Examples are morphine and codeine, the latter also found in cough syrups.

Unfortunately, with addiction comes an even bigger risk – overdose. Thousands of people in the US die of prescription drug overdose each year. Fatal overdose rates on painkillers have supposedly surpassed those on heroin and cocaine in recent years.

So why is prescription drug addiction on the rise?

  • They are easy to obtain. The medicine cabinet at home is still the main source of prescription drugs. Many teens are abusing drugs available at home.
  • People do not get addicted on purpose. They start taking the drugs for a valid reason and end up as junkies. The popular medical soap “Dr. House” illustrates how people, even medical doctors, who take painkillers regular get hooked without meaning to do so.
  • People believe prescription drugs are not illegal and therefore less of an evil than illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Doctors are sometimes unknowing facilitators when patients go from doctor to doctor for new prescriptions.
  • Some people are genetically predisposed to addiction, even to drugs that are normally that considered addictive.
  • The rise of Internet sites which sell prescription drugs illegally has increased remarkably in recent years, making access to these drugs easier.
  • People who are not addicts may try to sell their prescription drugs to third parties for cash.

How can prescription drug abused be prevented?

  • Start prevention at your own home. The advocacy group Five Moms are campaign for parents to secure their medicine cabinets.
  • Electronic medical records can alert doctors to unusual patient behavior such as frequent visits to different doctors and unusually frequent requests for prescriptions. According to USA Today, 39 American states have electronic records which track potentially addictive prescription drugs but the database is only available within each state and can easily be circumvented by crossing the stateline.
  • Health authorities recommend that doctors perform unannounced inventories of patient’s drug supply or conduct random urine tests.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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6 Responses to “Abusing Rx drugs can kill”
  1. This article does not in anyway help pain sufferers get a grip on the problem. In my own case I suddenly find I am on something that is quite dangerous and as the pain increases and I, being a weak person, will quite happily increase the dosage if it gets me some relief. Having maxed out on my recommended intake of “Tramacet” I will now toss and turn until morning when I can start again. Normally I am not a pill taker but now I have osteoarthritis I am into another world. What really bothers me are the various side effects one reads about. If you must write these alarming articles please try to put them in the context of real people trying to cope and not this alarmist nonsense that sells articles.

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