Prescription drug abuse implies the use of sedatives, mood stabilizers, painkillers, etc., prescribed by physicians, in quantities higher than the indicated dosage. Individuals tend to get addicted to medication prescribed by the doctor, and they start self-medicating themselves.
The signs and symptoms vary from drug to drug but certain common symptoms like irresponsible behavior, neglect of personal hygiene, irritability, hyperactivity, etc., indicate addiction. Prescription drugs like sedatives will have effects like constipation, depression, speech impairment, etc.
The history of prescription drug abuse dates back to the era of civil war, when wounded soldiers started abusing morphine, which was prescribed as a painkiller. They kept on taking morphine shots even after their wounds had healed, and the pain had completely subsided. In those days, there was no regulation on the sale of prescription medication, and there was rampant abuse of these medications. Today, there are many laws regarding the acquisition and sale of prescription medicine. Yet, there is a large number of people who abuse prescription medication, and there is a steady increase in this number.
In the year 1990, the number of prescription drug abusers stood at 600,000, and it jumped to over 2 million by the year 2000. States like Arkansas and Kentucky have the largest concentration of prescription drug abusers in the country, followed by Montana and Oklahoma.
Some of the most abused prescription drugs are made from morphine or its derivatives. Anti-depressants and sleeping pills were some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs. People are known to abuse more than one drug at a time, and there are many who use prescription drugs just to get high. It is also observed that some of the people who abuse prescription drugs are also addicted to alcohol.
Prescription Drug Abuse in Teenagers
Teenagers are more susceptible to such drug abuse, and are known to use them to get high during parties and social gatherings. Oxycontin and Vicodin are two of the most commonly abused prescription drugs by teenagers. Arkansas has the highest concentration of teenagers who abuse drugs, with more than 10% of them abusing prescription drugs. More than 9% of the teens in Kentucky and Oregon, as well as 8% of those in West Virginia, are addicted to prescription drugs.
The treatment may vary depending on the drug, the level of addiction, and the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. The treatment usually concentrates on counseling the user, as well as medication to provide relief from the withdrawal symptoms. Rehabilitation centers help people to cope with their condition through professional counseling and psychiatric help.
The statistics have indicated that kids as young as 12, are addicted to painkillers and stimulants. Older adults are also known to abuse prescription drugs, and there are more than 2.5 million prescription drug abusers in the United States alone. The National Institute of Drug Abuse is a resource for more information on statistics and treatment referrals.