According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), with nearly 15 million people aged 12 years and above using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, it has become a growing concern in the United States. More than 6.5 million people above the age of 11 years used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in 2013. These drugs are misused and abused more often than any other drug, except marijuana and alcohol, adds SAMHSA.
Supporting the fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), classified the rise in prescription drug abuse as an epidemic and stated that it kills more people than car accidents, every year. Further, a previous analysis by the CDC highlighted that while the sales of pain relievers increased four-fold between 1999-2010, at the same time, death due to an overdose of opioids also increased four times during the above-mentioned period. Meanwhile, admissions for substance abuse treatment grew by almost six times the rate during the same time.
The above statistics clearly reflect how widespread prescription drug abuse is in the country. In this regard, the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that approximately 12.7 percent of new illicit drug users began with prescription pain relievers. Even, the CDC in one of its report observed that “overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths.”
Rise in prescription drug abuse in recent years
Prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in the past few years. Additionally, factors such as insufficient regulations to curb inappropriate prescribing, insurance and pharmacy benefit policies, and a belief by many people that prescription drugs are not dangerous has further added to the problem. A recent analysis by the Quest Diagnostics, a laboratory testing company, has revealed that the rate of prescription drug abuse in 2015 was 54 percent with more than 3.1 million following the practice.
According to it, nearly 45 percent of the people abused a concoction of medicines, which also included a combination of dangerous drugs such as opioids and sedative. This combination has the potential to cause severe respiratory depression, coma and even death. “There was evidence that drugs were inappropriately mixed in 32 percent of the 2011 lab tests and 35 percent of the 2014 test,” stated the study. “Perhaps patients do not understand that mixing even small doses of certain drugs is hazardous, or they mistakenly believe prescription medications are somehow safe,” it added.
Prescription drugs more harmful than illicit drugs
Contrary to the common belief that non-medical use of prescription drugs is safer than consuming illicit drugs, the former is more harmful that the latter. Prescription drugs contain measured quantities of chemicals, which when abused can harm one’s body in a systematic manner. However, in the case of illicit drugs, they are non-formulated, hence affect the body unsystematically.
Therefore, the harm caused by prescription drugs is more long-lasting as they tend to change the chemistry of the body itself, rather than merely affecting the system. As a result, prescription drug abuse can lead to unintended side-effects which are dangerous in nature.
Prescription drugs help relieve medical ailments. As per the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA), people who abuse these drugs either do so to get high or improve their focus and cognition. However, as seen above, these drugs can do more harm than good, if abused.
Road to recovery
Over-the-counter sales of medicines, the latest mode of self-medication, is one of the factors that has led to the rise in prescription drug abuse. Thus, it has become imperative to identify a mechanism to curb the unwanted sale and purchase of these drugs. Not only should doctors be careful in prescribing medicines, so should pharmacies.
If you or your loved one is addicted to prescription drugs and is seeking treatment, you may contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline for information about various prescription drug rehabs in Florida. You may also call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 or chat online to learn about the best drug rehab centers in Florida.