When people think of a drug addiction, they often associate this with illegal substances such as cocaine, heroin, or ecstasy. However, what the majority fail to realise is that a prescription drug addiction is just as easy to develop. For example, in the United States, it is estimated that approximately 2.1 million people had abused prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012, according to a Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration report.
It is often the case though that people are unsure of what is classed as a prescription drug or not, so in this blog post, we will go on to explain the different types of prescription drugs and how these can affect you.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a United States agency), there are three main classes of prescription drugs that are regularly abused and which can then lead to a prescription drug addiction:
Many individuals abuse these prescription drugs because of the euphoric feeling that they produce. Many of these prescription drugs work in the same way that illegal drugs do, by giving the user a ‘high’ feeling and helping them to forget all of the problems associated with everyday life.
In a lot of cases, the addict will not intentionally ‘abuse’ the drugs. The affected individual might need them to relieve pain, hence the use of an opioid to act as this pain relief. One example of this is mother-of-four, Sarah Wilson, who found herself struggling with a prescription drug addiction after taking the opioid medication hydrocodone to deal with severe injuries from being struck by a drunk driver around eight years ago.
It is common for an addict to be able to hide their addiction from loved ones, and this was certainly the case for Sarah, as she was nearly three years into her recovery before anyone outside her immediate family found out about it.
She has admitted that whenever someone finds out about her addiction, they are always shocked. She has received comments about her addiction from people saying that she can’t possibly have been an addict as she was not a ‘junkie’, or in her words a ‘person like that’. Individuals usually have a stereotypical image in their head when they think of what a drug addict is, but the truth is that anyone can suffer from a drug addiction, regardless of gender, sexuality, wealth, religion, race, creed, etc.
Sarah spoke out about her prescription drug addiction as she feels that the stigma surrounding addiction puts people off talking about it as many feel that they will be labelled as a ‘bad person’. She hopes that by sharing her story, it will encourage others to follow in her footsteps.
People often end up with a prescription drug addiction because they are of the opinion that as these substances are legally prescribed to them, they cannot possibly be addictive. After all, they have been prescribed for a legitimate medical condition.
Most experts say that it is not clear why prescription drug abuse is increasing. However, it is thought that this may be because more of these drugs are becoming available, meaning that doctors have a larger choice when it comes to prescribing them. This creates an opportunity for these drugs to be abused.
Many doctors around the world have reported that they are giving out more prescriptions than ever before, including prescriptions for the more commonly abused drugs such as stimulants, opioids and CNS depressants. Along with this, the internet is a big factor, as there are huge numbers of online pharmacies selling these dangerous and addictive drugs. As they are online, anyone who has access to the internet can purchase from them, making it easier than ever before for teens and children to access these drugs. Nevertheless, as these substances are legal, it makes it very difficult to actually stop these online pharmacies from selling them.
To conclude, prescription drug addictions are one of the most common addictions in the world. Many believe that they do not have an addiction or that they are not doing anything wrong purely because the drugs they are abusing are either legitimately prescribed to them or have been ‘legally’ bought online. There is not enough publicity to warn people of the risks of abusing these drugs as more attention seems to be given to illegal substances such as marijuana or heroin.
Source: The opioid addict next door: Drug abuse where you least expect it (USA Today)
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