Prescription drug abuse has become one of the most common problems affecting the US. This type of drug abuse starts when users start taking a powerful painkilling medication when it is not prescribed. They continue to take the medication even when it is not advised and in steadily increasing doses which amounts to dependence and abuse. Dial 800-281-9007 for a substance abuse counselor to assist you now however you need.
According to the national website SAMHSA, the statistics are very scary as well.
More than 40% of the people in the US have used prescription drugs for non-medical uses in the last decade.
In the year 2010, more than 12 million Americans were addicted to prescription drugs and painkillers.
Most of these prescriptions were prescribed for valid medical conditions but the prescriptions were misused by affected patients or the prescriptions landed up in the hands of people who misused them.
Nearly 15,000 patients also died of prescription drug abuse in the year 2008 and this number has been steadily increasing. A few states like Kentucky, Florida, Nebraska, and Oklahoma also have higher than normal prescription drug abuse rates. Addicts also cost the health industry more than $7.2billion in direct health care costs and this did not include lost man power hours, criminal proceedings and rehabilitation care.
How Prescription Drugs are Abused
Usually, addicts tend to overuse opioids like Oxycontin and Vicodin which are generally used to soothe muscle pains. Along with opioids, patients can also get addicted to benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax, barbiturates like sodium pentobarbital, sleep medications like Ambien, and stimulant medication like Adderall. Addicts may smoke it, eat it, crush and sniff it or cook it with liquid and inject it.
Addicts may combine different groups of medications to get their addictive high. Unfortunately, these highly addictive medications are the most commonly prescribed pills that are provided by dentists, doctors, pharmacists and nurses for serious medical conditions and mental diseases. One very important point to note is that these medications can only be provided on a prescription given by a doctor or a nurse.
As repeat prescriptions are difficult to get, addicts have gotten sharper. Addicts also tend to mimic or fake chronic pain in order to convince doctors to provide a painkiller prescription. In fact, emergency room physicians are particularly wary of emergency room patients that complain of severe pain, have no other complaints but ask for a specific medication.
This sort of behavior does tend to put up warning flags in the minds of attending physicians and they generally refuse treatment till a definite diagnosis is reached. However, it’s not as simple as that either. These medications are also available for sale illegally.
Even if the attending physician refuses to fill the prescription, addicts can switch over to over the counter medications like DXM (dextromethorphan) which is commonly found in cough syrup and cold medication. Addicts sometimes consume it in high amounts to get the requisite high.
What Can Be Done to Control Prescription Drug Abuse? – Due to these flaring levels of prescription drug abuse, most states have put in strict rules and regulations regarding the dispensing and prescribing of drugs.For example, Kentucky has set up a mandatory database by which doctors can check to find out whether the patient has been overusing a particular drug.
The database is mandatory for doctors and pharmacists so that overuse of a drug can be tracked. States have also asked doctors to comply with the monitoring system to ensure that fake patients do not abuse the dispensing process to obtain pills for illegal sale. Local agencies are now pushing to coordinate the database with Medicaid and workers compensation programs to identify abusers.
By 2011, health insurers will also contribute and weigh in by setting up prescription claim review programs to identify abusers. They will also help patients to recover faster by sanctioning recovery treatments like physical therapy to help after accidents. Most insurers will also make substance abuse treatment programs available for patients under the same coverage.
Health care workers are being guided on how many pills to provide at one time and when to provide repeat prescriptions. Patient-provider agreements have to be made and reviewed regularly to ensure that the medication is not abused. Counseling is also provided for patients to teach them how to use the medication and the side effects that they might have.
Patients are encouraged to cut back on painkillers as quickly as possible. Unused medications have to be disposed of properly and addicts should be encouraged to get treatment.