Substance Abuse Rehab for Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug abuse is a very real epidemic that has its hold on our country. Not only is it possible to abuse prescription medication, but it also affects any one and has many severe consequences. Prescription substance abuse is defined by a person who doesn’t take his or her medicine as the doctor or pharmacist prescribed – either taking more than they should, or using prescription medication that wasn’t prescribed to or needed by them, and taking it in conjunction with other substances (such as other medication, drugs, or alcohol). This kind of substance abuse can become highly addictive, dangerous, and even fatal. Also, it is important to note that just because the drug itself is legal, it doesn’t mean that abusing it is too – abuse of prescription medication is just as illegal as using and abusing street drugs.

Stats and Facts about Prescription Substance Abuse

  • Prescription substance abuse is used to refer specifically improper use of medicines that are categorized as “controlled substances” by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
  • Prescription medication is the third most commonly abused category of drugs, only being beaten by alcohol (1st) and marijuana (2nd) but ahead of other dangerous drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.
  • It is estimated that 48 million Americans have abused prescription drugs – this is almost 20% of our population (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence).
  • In a 2014 survey, 24% of teenagers admitted to taking prescription medication without a prescription (NIDA – Monitoring the Future Survey 2014).
  • Similarly, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that almost a third of people, aged 12 and up, who started using drugs 2009 began by abusing prescription drugs.
  • This survey also found that 70% of those who abuse prescription pills got them from friends or relatives, while only about 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or through the Internet.
  • Around 66% of teenagers who abuse prescription medicine are getting their drugs from friends, family and acquaintances (either taking, buying, or being given them).
  • The most abused prescription meds are opioids (pain killers like Percocet, Demerol, OxyContin and Vicodin), benzodiazepines (used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and panic attacks such as Valium, Xanax, Nembutal, Klonopin, and Ativan – also referred to as tranquilizers and sedatives), and stimulants (most common is ADHD medication such as Ritalin and Adderall) (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Prescription drugs have now overtaken heroin in terms of the number of opiate overdoses (Office of National Drug Control Policy).

The Difference Between Use and Abuse
While prescription medication abuse is now seen as a serious epidemic in our country, it is important to remember that there is a difference between use and abuse. If you or a loved one is using prescription medication it can be beneficial if it is being monitored, controlled and prescribed to that person by a qualified doctor, they are taking the right dosage, and are not mixing it with other substances or medications that could cause adverse effects.

Proper use, however, can easily morph into substance abuse if the patient begins to take the medication beyond what the doctor prescribed. Abuse also occurs when someone takes prescription medication that has not been prescribed to them. The danger of substance abuse is, initially, addiction to that substance. The reason why many medications are controlled by doctors and through prescriptions and dosage directions is because they are highly addictive and could have serious side effects if not taken correctly.

If you suspect that you or someone you love is abusing prescription medication, you should contact a doctor or a substance abuse rehab to get help immediately.