Prescription Drug Abuse – A Serious and Growing Problem

Today, in the United States, prescription drug addiction is an epidemic. Most people in the United States take prescription medication as directed; however, approximately 20 percent of those who use prescription medications do so without a prescription. Prescription drug addiction destroys lives and those suffering from this ailment need help.

Experts are unsure why prescription drug abuse continues to rise. The availability of prescription medications and/or the assumption that they are more acceptable than “street drugs” are some of the reasons for the increase in the abuse. Other reasons for the increase in abuse include online pharmacies, which make it easy to get prescription medications, and the reality that doctors are prescribing more drugs than ever before. No matter the reason, prescription drug addiction kills.

Ahead of methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and others, prescription medications are the second most commonly abused class of drugs. The most abused include pain relievers or opioids such as Lortab (hydrocodone), Oxycontin (oxycodone), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), and Demerol (meperidine); anxiety medication or central nervous system depressants including barbiturates and benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam); and stimulants for ADHD such as Ritalin and Adderall. This abuse presents an exceptional challenge because of the need to balance potential abuse with the legitimate need for the medications.

One of the main “cocktails” used by those who abuse prescription drugs is a mixture of opiods and benzodiazepines. Usually the cocktail consists of Oxycontin and Xanax. This mixture has proven to be a deadly combination. The use of opiods has serious side effects such as respiratory suppression. The effects include acute pulmonary edema, bronchospasm, and aspiration of vomit. Death from opioid overdose is usually due to respiratory failure. Benzodiazepines also adversly effects the respiratory system by inhibiting the neurotransmitters that mediate the control of respiration. When people mix and abuse these medications, they are playing “Russian roulette” with their lives. Both of these medications, used separately and as intended, have legitimate uses. Unfortunately, the illegal use and mixing of opiods and benzodiazepines are part of the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

Many of those who are suffering from prescription drug addiction will claim that they have a legitimate reason for taking the drug. Unfortunately, no matter the reason, people who suffer from the abuse have a serious drug problem and need help. Prescription drug abuse is a killer and should be treated as a serious problem. Several options are available for helping those addicted to prescription medication. If you know or suspect someone of abusing prescription drugs, seek professional advice to determine the best way to help.