Awareness Kills the Spread of Prescription Drug Addictions
In most cases, prescription drug abuse begins innocently. Incredibly, by 2010, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) recorded 6,600 new U.S. prescription drug abuses daily. That amounts to potentially 2,400,000 new addicts in 2010 alone. The most shocking aspect is that most of these abuses happened at home – well-meaning people aided in the abuse. But awareness alone is enough to reduce prescription drug misuse by close to 50%.
Below, we look at how families have unwittingly accepted the misuse of prescription drugs. We also learn the “do’s” and “don’ts” of prescription medication use.
Sharing isn’t always caring.
In many homes, sharing medication is normal. Almost all pre-teen abusers started by using the medications of well-meaning guardians. It’s human nature to try to help someone in need, so when we identify our symptoms in someone else, we instinctively want to share the medication that allows us to feel better. But this is a dangerous habit for three primary reasons:
- Different conditions may, and sometimes do, represent with similar symptoms.
- Medication dosages are often determined specifically per individual.
People can be allergic to certain forms of and ingredients in medication.
Medication sharing has resulted in fatalities. Additionally, drugs taken without a doctor’s permission or supervision are more likely to lead to addiction. All addiction begins with some form of medication abuse and sharing medications can lead loved ones to develop prescription medication addiction.
When it comes to children, medication sharing can set a dangerous precedent. Children get the idea that any time they feel “off”, it’s okay to pop something from the medicine cabinet. We need to train children to respect prescription medication so as to avoid potential abuse and addiction problems.
It came from a doctor so it must be safe.
The danger surrounding prescription medication addiction is not well understood in the U.S, as evidenced by the fact that 50% of teenagers believe prescription medication is a safer alternative to street drugs. This misconception has resulted in the largest demand for the world’s prescription drugs coming from the U.S. – 75% use by a country that only makes up 5% of the global population.
The average American home doesn’t monitor prescription drug medications. Access is easy and potential abuse, as a result, is too. When a family member is provided with any form of addictive medication, the decision and consequences should be considered by the whole family. Maintenance, dosage and administration should be carefully monitored in an attempt to reduce the potential of addiction by our loved ones. Preventing addiction is much easier than dealing with it.
The more pills the merrier.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,000 daily medical emergencies involve the abuse of prescription medication and half of all drug overdose deaths involve them. When abuse, prescription medications can be as dangerous as street drugs.
Popping one extra pill is one too many. If you believe you may have developed a tolerance to the medication, seek medical assistance. The ease with which people consume additional pills is alarming. If you are unable to strictly follow the guidelines of a prescription, you should request the assistance of a spouse or family member. Knowledge of prescription medication dangers is crucial because it only takes one additional pill to trigger a dangerous cycle of abuse.
The way its taken doesn’t matter i.e. snorting.
Prescription medications are designed so their rate of entry into the blood stream is regulated. This means that when required to swallow a tablet, you should adhere to the instruction. Unfortunately, some people have discovered that opioid drug effects are realized faster when they are snorted. This is a very dangerous trend because crushing and snorting tablets can generally result in addiction whether you are taking the prescribed dose or not. Snorting the pills is abuse. Snorting also intensifies the euphoria associated with the medication. This amplified euphoria further encourages the misuse. And what’s worse is that snorting these drugs is known to damage the lungs.
The euphoria effect.
The euphoria associated with prescription medication is their primary reason for abuse. Patients have noted that the simple act of being prescribed a medication can affect their mood. However, using the medications for the euphoria effect is the first step towards addiction.
It’s unfortunate that the use of prescription medication for the euphoria effect is a widely-accepted rationale. The truth is that the danger that this form of abuse poses is not well understood and because of this, it is important that families carefully monitor the use of prescribed medications.
The popping of pills when one is feeling depressed or sad is a big red flag. This, and other obvious signs of abuse should be noted and professional help sought. Drug addiction recovery is a long and painful process. It’s always in your loved one’s best interest to see help before a full-blown addiction has set in. But even in the case of a total addiction, all is not lost. Addiction is treatable but again, prevention is far easier than treatment.
How can your family help in the fight against prescription medication addiction?
Pharmaceutical medication overdoses claim more lives than car or firearms accidents. When a family member receives a prescription, the potential addiction risks should be understood by the whole family because what is about to enter the home is, statistically, more dangerous than a gun.
Prescription medications should always be locked away, kept out of the reach of children and their dosage carefully monitored. If the medication fails to work as expected, a follow-up medical opinion should be sought but the dosage should never be increased and certainly not without a doctor’s knowledge and consent. Medication should also never be shared between individuals, no matter how similar peoples’ symptoms may appear.
The key to conquering this epidemic is to first acknowledge how fatal it has become. The second step is to realize how subtly addiction can set in. Addiction begins with abuse. If we can prevent abuse, then we have won the war.
Finally, children should always be kept away from medications. Statistics show that 25% of people under the age of 13 who abuse prescription medications will become addicts. While it may seem like a good idea to share your medication with your crying child in pain, it’s not. You could be initiating a ripple effect that may ending up destroying his or her life. Stop now and take your child to a pediatrician.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATC) and a member of CAADE (California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators). Over the last 7 years Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.