There can be many dangerous side effects from taking prescription drugs, which is why they should only be taken under the direct supervision of a doctor. However, the recreational use of prescription drugs is on the rise among Americans, especially among young adults and teens. The potential for abusing prescription drugs has sparked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to place many prescriptions in the same category as heroin or cocaine. Many of these prescriptions include painkillers and stimulants such as OxyContin, Demerol and Ritalin.
The potential for dangerous side effects from abusing prescription drugs can be more detrimental than abusing common street drugs such as LSD, heroin and cocaine. There are certain prescriptions, such as OxyContin, which contain potency levels that can be extremely dangerous for someone whom abuses prescription drugs. The number of deaths caused by prescription painkillers has doubled over the last five years.
Although prescription drugs are regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, giving and selling prescriptions are still forms of illegal drug dealing. If an individual distributes a prescription drug, then he could be incarcerated. If an individual gives or sells a prescription drug that results in serious injury or death, then he could be incarcerated for life.
There are four categories of prescription drugs that are often abused:
Opioids and Morphine Derivatives
Prescription drugs in this category are commonly referred to as painkillers and contain opium or morphine to relieve and ease pain.
This category of prescription drugs contain depressants that effect the brain and spinal cord. The primary function of these prescription drugs is to slow activity in the brain.
This category of drugs is used for individuals with depression. They are psychiatric drugs that can alter brain function to treat depression.
Prescription stimulants are used to increase drive and attentiveness in individuals. Prescription drugs in this category are known to cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.
Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics
According to Drug-Free World, there are 2,500 young adults who abuse prescription drugs. The ages of these young adults are 12 to 17. In 2005, a survey revealed that an estimated 4.4 million young adults in the United States have abused prescription drugs. The survey also revealed that almost half of the young adults who participated in the survey believe taking prescription drugs is much safer than taking street drugs, which is not true. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that young adults who abuse prescription drugs have an increased risk of marijuana and alcohol abuse. The Drug Enforcement Administration revealed the painkiller known as fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, resulted in over 1,000 deaths in the United States in 2007.
In 2005, there were 22,400 deaths in the United States caused by prescription drug overdose. An estimated 38.2 percent of these deaths were caused by overdosing on opium derivatives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that an estimated 7 million individuals in the United States abused prescription drugs in 2010, which is nearly 3 percent of the population.
Treatment Options for Prescription Drug Abusers
There are many resources available that offer treatment for individuals who abuse prescription drugs. Given under the direct supervision of a doctor, some common medications can ease the withdrawal symptoms that accompany quitting prescription drugs. There are also behavioral therapy programs, which have been an effective method for treating prescription drug abuse. It’s vital for prescription drug abusers to have ample support and encouragement, which will increase the chances of a successful recovery.