If one medical-related story is persistently reported in the news, it is the exponential growth in the number of people who abuse over-the-counter prescription drugs.
The number of people who have to check into rehab centers for the level of recovery help they need is also growing. Why has this become such a prominent issue?
Here is an overview of why a home’s medicine cabinet has become the focus of attention and how prescription drug abuse has fueled a rapid rise in overdose deaths.
A worrying trend
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that the number of overdose deaths attributed to prescription opioids has increased four-fold over the last decade and shows no sign of slowing down.
One of the major challenges in tackling this problem is that most prescription medications are properly prescribed to people who genuinely need them. The issue is that they may have been genuinely dispensed in the first place, but a growing percentage of these drugs are not being consumed by the intended recipient.
Which prescription medications are most commonly abused?
The list of medications that are being abused is quite extensive. It ranges from prescription painkillers to benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders.
With regard to benzodiazepines, it has been shown that this drug is commonly abused because of its sedative properties.
Barbiturates are often prescribed as anesthetics or sedatives, but they are commonly abused and are very problematic because they are very addictive.
Another commonly abused range of prescription drugs is stimulants. These are usually prescribed to ease ADHD symptoms. However, they are often abused due to their ability to enhance energy and alertness levels.
What are the main drivers behind the popularity of prescription drug abuse?
You can’t single out one particular reason why this form of drug abuse is so common.
Some of the most common reasons given for over-the-counter medication abuse include the development of a high level of dependency on painkillers, to the mistaken belief that this is a safer tactic than resorting to illicit drugs.
Painkillers are regularly prescribed in high doses. This can then create a high level of dependency when people try to replicate the euphoric feeling they experience when first taking these drugs.
Many people who fall into addiction tend to start out with honest intentions but find themselves increasingly dependent. This leads them to seek out further supplies to fuel their addiction.
Some start abusing medications for recreational purposes. Unfortunately, this can have the same outcome by creating a level of dependency that quickly turns into an addiction.
How over-the-counter medication leads to addiction problems
It is often the case that over-the-counter drugs can become an unintended pathway to abuse.
When someone is taking high doses and develops a level of tolerance to their prescribed level of medication they then seek a more potent high.
Substance use disorders are challenging to overcome. That is why it often requires professional help through a treatment center to combat the problem and achieve recovery from addiction.
Over-the-counter drug abuse has become worryingly common. When you look at the facts and figures behind this problem you begin to understand why so many people need to seek help when they become trapped in a cycle of addiction.