The use and abuse of illegal drugs has been prevalent in America for decades. But recently, a new wave of drug abuse has made its way into the forefront. Legal prescription and even over the counter drugs are being used recreationally often mixed with alcohol or other drugs. This new brand of substance abuse is sweeping the nation, with over 50 million people having reported the non-medical use of prescription drugs at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control have declared prescription drugs abuse an epidemic, and overdoses on such drugs have become one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs in America are painkillers, stimulants, and anti-depressants. When used recreationally, these drugs can mimic the effects of certain illegal drugs. Opioid painkillers, such as fentanyl and oxy contin, have a similar feel to heroin. Stimulants, often used to treat ADD, can mimic the effects of cocaine on those who do not medically need it. Anti-depressants, such as Xanax and Klonopin, can bring non-medical users into a euphoric high.
The prescription drugs trade in America is vast yet difficult to control. Doctors often prescribe powerful drugs to people that need it. But some people may lie about their conditions in order to gain access to the drugs. They may also go to several different doctors or emergency rooms, in a practice called “doctor shopping.”
Many people that are prescribed pharmaceuticals legitimately will then sell or trade their medications. Stimulant medications such as Adderall or Ritalin are very popular on college campuses, with the vast majority of users stating they got their pills from a friend with a legitimate prescription. Opioid painkillers are so sought after that the black market price has skyrocketed. This has lead to a dramatic increase in the number of heroin users, as the cost and availability of prescription painkillers becomes difficult for users to manage.
Aside from pharmaceuticals being sold or traded by those who were prescribed them, there is a growing market for clandestine online pharmacies selling pills to anyone, with no prescription needed. These websites are often based in other countries in order to evade United States law enforcement. This growing market is a dangerous one, as there is no way to tell what the chemical make up is of the drugs being sold. A pill marketed as Xanax may not be the same as what is legitimately available through legitimate pharmacies. The Centers for Disease Control is urging Americans not to order prescriptions from these websites, no matter how genuine they may seem.
The abuse of prescription drugs has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Millions of Americans are struggling with addictions to legal substances. Although the Drug Enforcement Agency is doing all they can to stop the spread of this disease, it is not an easy task. Pharmaceuticals that are prescribed legitimately are still getting into the hands of those that do not need them. The prescription drug trade is a dangerous one, with overdoses killing thousands of Americans each year. So far, education about the dangers of such drug abuses is the key to ending this deadly disease.