Prescription Drug Abuse and Misuse
Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse has become a rampant problem across the United States for all age categories, but it can significantly affect children and young adults. The definition of abuse and misuse of prescription medications involves taking and obtaining these drugs with no prescription and using them or selling them for non-medical purposes.
Young adults and teens are at risk of abusing these medications because they are easily available, inexpensive or free and falsely considered safer than illegal drugs. However, the consequences of using drugs like this are extremely serious in addition to being illegal.The Problem with Prescription Drug Use and Abuse in the U.S.
Prescription drug use has increased significantly between 1997 and 2007 and the abuse of such drugs is now the quickest growing drug issue in the United States, according to the Executive Office of the President. Many of these medications are easily available inside medicine cabinets and children may be tempted to take them without realizing the full range of side effects or consequences or sell them to others.
The 2011 youth risk behavior surveillance survey identified that more than 20% of high school students admitted to taking a prescription drug without an appropriate prescription at least one time in their history. Furthermore, more teens abuse prescription drugs than heroine, cocaine or methamphetamine, according to research completed by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Furthermore, the Archives of Internal Medicine indicate that more than 75% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 obtained painkillers for non-medical reasons compared with 52% of people older than age 50. The serious consequences of prescription drug abuse can impact not just the child and his or her family members, but society as a whole. The strategies designed to decrease prescription drug abuse among young adults include:
- Educating health care providers to screen patients for current or past substance abuse
- Educating the public about how to properly dispose of unneeded or old medicines
- Encouraging parents and any care givers to talk about the dangers of abusing and misusing prescription drugs as well as over the counter medicines
- Educating caregivers and parents about the importance of keeping any prescription medication locked up
- Understanding the value of prescription drug monitoring programs that can help to address abuse and misuse.
Prescription drug abuse has become a public health problem and misuse can lead to many different problems. Whether it is stimulants, depressants or opioids, abuse of these medications can be catastrophic. Prescription drugs are the most commonly used misused substances behind alcohol and marijuana for American teens, 14 and older. Prescription drugs are often strong medications that have harmful side effects. Misuse of prescription drugs can come in the form of
- Taking a prescription medication in a way other than what is was prescribed for
- Taking another person's prescription medication
- Taking prescription medications to get high
- Mixing these with other drugs
There are three types of prescription drugs commonly misused by young adults. These are stimulants, opioids and depressants. Stimulants are used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, opioids are used to relieve pain and depressants are used to help a person sleep or to relieve anxiety. These medications can come with medical problems even when used as directed.
Side effects may include slurred speech, feeling paranoid, feeling sick to your stomach, sleepiness, lack of coordination, disorientation and more. Misusing any kind of drug that causes changes in your perceptions, behavior and mood can increase your willingness to take risks and can affect judgment. This can lead to catastrophic consequences for teens and other young adults. Sadly, far too many teens find out how addiction or dangerous these drugs can be after it's too late.
A teen who develops a dependency on these medications may struggle with addiction for years and miss out on life opportunities in addition to facing higher risk rates for injuries and accidents.