Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in American society, with drug treatment centers often required to help people break the bonds of addiction. While most prescription drugs are taken for the reason the doctor intended, an increasing number of people are misusing and over using legitimate medications for recreational purposes.
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Prescription drug abuse involves the misuse and over use of prescription medications, with drugs available either through the medical system or on the black market. Drug addiction is a disease that affects the way people think and behave, with the continual use of many prescription drugs leading to tolerance and withdrawal.
Drug abuse often requires detoxification and medication therapy, with behavioral therapy and counseling also required to treat the precedents of addiction. There are many ways to abuse prescription drugs, including over using prescriptions, combining prescriptions, taking other people’s prescriptions, purchasing prescriptions on the black market, and using different methods of administration than intended.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescribed drug abuse affects roughly 20 percent of the American adult population, with people abusing opioids, tranquilizers and stimulants on a regular basis.
The vast majority of prescribed drug abuse falls into three distinct categories: opioid painkillers, central nervous system (CNS) depressant tranquilizers, and stimulants. Examples of opioid drugs include codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, buprenorphine, morphine, fentanyl and meperidine. Common trade names include Oxycontin, Precocet, Diluadid, Oxyfast, Lorcet and Vicodin.
The most widely abused CNS depressants are benzodiazepines, including Valium, Xanax, Serax, Klonopin and Ativan. These drugs are taken for their sedative and hypnotic qualities, and are prescribed legally to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are also widely abused for their stimulant properties, with these drugs taken medically to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Prescribed drug abuse is on the rise in America, with more drugs available than ever before through local and online pharmacies. In fact, Americans use roughly 75 percent of the global supply of prescription medications, despite only accounting for 5 percent of the global population. A massive 52 million people in the United States have misused prescription medications at some point in their lifetime, with an estimated 8.76 million current abusers. Opioid painkillers are the most widely abused prescription drugs, with 5.1 million current abusers, followed by tranquilizers at 2.2 million and stimulants at 1.1 million.
Prescribed drug abuse involves the over use or misuse of legal medications, with common signs including multiple trips to the doctor, doctor shopping, forging or stealing prescriptions, and purchasing prescriptions for drugs on the black market. According to the FDA, the guidelines for using prescription medications safely include:
Depending on the abused medication in question, a medical detox period may be required before the start of a treatment program. Common treatment medications include Suboxone, methadone, naltrexone, Antabuse, Neurontin and Bupropion. Long-term opiate replacement therapy may be used in severe cases of opioid addiction, with methadone and buprenorphine prescribed in the context of harm reduction.
Ongoing psychotherapy and counseling may be required following a medication regime, with behavioral therapy and relapse prevention programs designed to treat the precedents of drug addiction. In order to ensure an effective and long-term recovery, aftercare programs may be required on an indefinite basis to ensure a sustainable long-term recovery.