The nation’s most serious drugs of abuse and concern today may be the one that many Americans often have right in the home medicine cabinet.
Abuse of prescription drugs, whether opioids (narcotic painkillers), benzodiazepine or benzos (sedative, hypnotic and anti-anxiety drugs), amphetamines (stimulants), are seemingly tipping the substance abuse scales. Today, it appears less Americans are abusing conventional illicit street drugs, and increasing numbers are turning to opioid painkillers–a category of psychotherapeutic drugs which were linked to more than 20,000 overdose deaths in 2010.
What is it that makes prescription substances so dangerous and habit-forming? If prescription drug addiction is destroying your family, learn the facts about this deadly epidemic and how you can take charge.
Prescription Substance Abuse: An American Epidemic
Common misconceptions about prescription drugs exist amongst youth and adults alike. These falsehoods can spread rapidly amongst a group of friends, leading to reckless abuse of pharmaceutical drugs which cause more overdoses than all other illicit street drugs combined.
Recent reports showed that a staggering 7 million Americans abuse painkillers. Compare this to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s estimated 670,000 cocaine abusers, and you see a mere glance of the problem we’re up against.
Some examples of the incorrect ideas that surround prescription drugs are:
- Because pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed by a licensed physician and distributed by pharmaceutical companies, they are not harmful.
- You can’t get hooked on a prescription if you take it for a legitimate medical concern.
- Prescription drugs are safer than street drugs.
Spotting Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
How do you know if your loved one has become addicted to prescription drugs? The primary issue lies in the ability to draw a line between the medical necessity of pharmaceuticals and prescription drug misuse. Spotting the warning signs of such substance abuse is the first step in resolving the prescription drug addiction that could destroy your family.
Prescription drugs possess addictive qualities and cause the body to build up a tolerance, thus requiring increasing dosages in order to produce the same effect. This is what happens to someone who has become addicted to prescription drugs–he or she will use the medication at higher doses than they were originally prescribed. This can and does often lead to a physical and mental dependency on the drug. An individual might begin to use the drug to feel happier or better in some way and will eventually develop intense cravings for more drugs between each dose.
Being vigilant of warning signs and odd or erratic behavior is the best way to protect your family from the insidious problem of prescription substance misuse and dependency. Look for the following signs not as isolated incidents, but collectively:
- Mood swings
- Increasing need for more of the drug, or at odd times
- Anxiety or nervousness; fear of being found out
- Physical discomfort or withdrawal symptoms (especially in the case of opioids)
- Emotional instability; severe depression or angry outbursts
Prescription drug abuse continues in spite of negative consequences for the user which can include relationship difficulties, problems on the job, or the risk of physical harm from inappropriate use.
At any point during this cycle of addiction, familial tension becomes inevitable.When an individual becomes addicted to illicit or prescription drugs, their behavior becomes focused on actions which support their habit–theft, lying, betrayal and other immoral acts.
If you are questioning whether someone close to you is addicted to their prescription drug, act quickly. Talk to a counselor to learn more about this type of addiction by calling 1-800-468-6933.