Why is Prescription Drug Abuse Common in the United States?

The United States has an overwhelming drug problem, in part, by the overprescribing of potentially addictive medications. 

Battle this problem at Impact IOP. Our intensive addiction treatment programs are designed for individuals struggling with prescription drug abuse, illegal drug abuse, and alcoholism. These substances don’t rule your life, and we are ready to help you learn this fact.

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Why is Prescription Drug Abuse Common?

Prescription drug abuse is expected because of how frequently they are prescribed. Prescription drug abuse hit an all-time high in 2012, alarming and shocking individuals tracking prescriptions. According to research, 255 million prescriptions for opioids alone were prescribed at a rate of 81.3 per 100 people. This increases the risk of abuse because of its availability and use. 

Due to the boom of prescription drug abuse in communities across the United States, strict prescription monitoring has been implemented to ensure that potentially addictive prescriptions are closely watched. Individuals are counseled on safe use and given first-level interventions if doctors notice signs of abuse.

Which Prescription Drugs Are Commonly Abused?

Three classes of drugs are commonly abused: opioids and opiates, stimulants, and central nervous system depressants. These three types of drugs cover the gambit of most addictive drugs and are, without a doubt, potentially deadly.

Individuals who abuse opioids are abusing prescription painkillers. Prescription pain pills can be prescribed in many instances. For example, an individual with back pain, a person with cancer, and a person who broke an ankle may all receive the same type of medication as it acts to block the opioid pain receptors and relieves pain. However, as mentioned above, prescription opioids are one of the top abused drugs, and when individuals are unable to access that medication anymore, whether because the prescription ran out or the doctor won’t refill it anymore, individuals often turn to street drugs like heroin, which has the same opioid pain receptors that prescription pain pills do.

Another commonly abused prescription medication is stimulants, specifically those used for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Individuals who abuse stimulants are at a high risk of developing heart problems, nutrition and weight problems, and overuse paranoia and hallucinations. In addition, stimulants are dangerous for individuals who are not prescribed them by a doctor, and those who abuse their prescription increase their own risks.

Lastly, central nervous system depressants are commonly abused. These drugs are used to control personality and anxiety disorders that individuals struggle with. Individuals can overdose on CNS depressants, but often, it is due to the combination of another substance, alcohol, opioids, or stimulants that interact with the depressant.

What are the Signs of Prescription Drug Misuse?

Prescription drug misuse can be noticed early on by a medical professional who is closely monitoring his patients who have been prescribed potentially addictive drugs. Additionally, family members who are aware of the signs of prescription drug abuse can watch out for red flags.

The main ways to abuse prescription drugs include:

  • Taking too much.
  • Taking it with other drugs.
  • Taking it in a way that it should not be.
  • Taking the drug illegally.

Taking too much of a prescription drug is one of the most apparent signs an individual may be abusing their prescription. As a result, their medication will run out too soon, they will need to refill more often than recommended, or they may even use other drugs when the first runs out.

Taking prescription drugs with another substance is a dangerous way to misuse drugs. In addition, individuals who mix medications and substances increase their risk of fatality and unwelcome side effects.

Those who take prescription medications in an altered form also act in a potentially dangerous situation. By crushing a pill to make it work more quickly or dissolving something into juice or water, you impact the time the body needs to process the drug. This can make it more addictive.

Lastly, prescription medications taken illegally have a higher chance of misuse developing into addiction. Because the prescription was not set to the individual, the chances of developing an addiction due to the strength of the medication are possible. Additionally, prescription medication can interact with other medicines and highlight other health concerns.

How to Find Prescription Drug Treatment Programs

To find prescription drug treatment programs in your area, you can search through your insurance company, your local doctor’s network, or the internet. 

We recommend our Louisville outpatient treatment facility, Impact IOP. Our partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment programs are ideal for individuals just starting on their addiction journey. They are comprehensive learning programs that support individuals in figuring out what is best for their treatment process and how they can achieve sobriety through learning and consistency. 
Contact our Kentucky intensive outpatient treatment center today to see how we can support you on your journey to sobriety.

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