Prescription Drug Abuse On The Rise In The United States


Today “medical marijuana” seems to be the hot topic of discussions. While this is a big issue, there are many other dangerous legal drugs that are easily available not only to adults but to our children — prescription drugs. These can be easier to obtain than street drugs. Family members or friends may have them but they are sometimes sold on the streets just like illegal drugs.

Some people experiment with prescription drugs because they think they will help them have more fun, lose weight, fit in and even study more effectively. A 2009 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that prescription drug abuse is on the rise, with 20 percent of teens saying they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s permission. Why? Some people think that prescription drugs are safer and less addictive than street drugs.

The most commonly used prescription drugs fall into three classes:

Opioids. These include Oxycodone, (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and meperidine (Demerol).

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants include pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), diazepam (Valium) and Alprazolam (Xanax).

Stimulants to include methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall).

Oxycodone (OxyContin) is fast becoming one of the most popular drugs of abuse in the narcotic abusing public. Oxycodone is also known by street names such as “Hillbilly Heroin, Kicker, OC, OX, Oxy and Oxycotton.” Oxycodone products are in Schedule II of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Six states have enacted legislation to deal with this issue. Sixteen states have established prescription monitoring programs and many more states are working to establish legislation and prescription monitoring programs to deal with diverted pharmaceuticals. Oxycodone is a constituent of the poppy plant.

Whether they are using street drugs or medications, drug abusers often have trouble at school, at home, with friends, or with the law. The likelihood that someone will commit a crime, be a victim of a crime or have an accident is higher when that person is abusing drugs — no matter whether those drugs are medications or street drugs.

Like all drug abuse, using prescription drugs for the wrong reasons has serious risks for a person’s health. Opioid abuse can lead to death and the risk is even higher when used with other substances such as alcohol, antihistamines and CNS depressants.

According to data available from Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which monitors drug-related emergency room visits in a sample of about 220 hospitals, the estimated number of emergency visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics increased from 144,600 visits in 2004 to 305,900 in 2008, including a 29 percent increase during 2007-2008 alone. Oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone were the drugs most involved.

In 2008 the rates of treatment of nonmedical use of opioids and benzodiazepines rose sharply at about age 17, peaked at ages 21 through 24 and declined after age 54. This represents a shift to younger patients, the agency said.

Information obtained from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Presented by the Gila County Meth Coalition


Pat Randall 6 years, 2 months ago

Why is there a rise in prescription drug addiction? Drs. and pharmacutical companies. Bottom line the almighty dollar. A person has a pain, don't find out what is causing it, just get out the little pad and write a prescription. Most are for a 30 day supply or less so back to the dr. again. Another charge for an office call as most of the bad drugs can not be called in to renew.


Pat Randall 3 years, 1 month ago

I see I posted on here three yrs. about this and nothing has changed except to get worse. Put the blame where it belongs, on the medical profession. Don't try to find out what is causing the pain and fix it. Write a prescription, office call is the same price and doesn't take near as much time or liability. All drs. prescriptions should be checked once a year. Or maybe, better yet take the damn stuff off the market. Legal and illegal drugs could be stopped if there was not so much money to be made from them. One Tylenol about every three days is my drug of choice, and believe me I have pain.


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