Although prescription drugs need a prescription from a licensed physician, they can easily end up being abused by the patients or their friends.
Prescription drug abuse can ruin your life. Months or years after you begin using, you can suddenly lose your job – ruin your marriage, or even lose your kids – and that is because many employers decide to give surprise hair drug tests (which are almost impossible to beat).
Prescription drug abuse is the misuse of a drug/medication, which includes overdosing, taking medication together with alcohol or other drugs and even taking the medication by using the wrong administration method.
According to the National Institute Of Drug Abuse, people mostly abuse prescription drugs such as;
- Prescription opioids (e.g. codeine, morphine, oxycodone, etc.)
- Prescription sedatives (e.g. barbiturates, benzodiazepines, sleeping medication, etc.)
- Prescription stimulants (e.g. amphetamine, methylphenidate)
Studies have established that unintentional prescription medication overdose kills at least one person in the United States every day. There is even a report stating that prescription drug abuse causes more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
In addition to that, this form of drug abuse doesn’t come cheap. In fact, the United States loses at least $53.4 billion every year due to medical costs, criminal justice costs and lost productivity. With this in mind, preventing prescription drug abuse is of utmost importance.
Prevention Of Prescription Drug Abuse
Here are ten tips to help avoid this type of drug misuse:
1. The very first step of preventing prescription drug abuse is creating knowledge and awareness about what it is and the risks it poses. Information is power and in this case, it can mean the difference between normal use and abuse of the medication.
2. Secondly, it is absolutely important to ensure that you get the right medication for your condition. The best way to do this is to make sure that the doctor understands your condition. If you are afraid that the ingredients used in the medication could be addictive, inquire for alternative medication that contains less addictive ingredients.
3. Prescription drugs normally have clear instructions defining the dose to take, the times to take it and even the ways to administer it. Following these instructions is an important precursor for the prevention of drug abuse.
For example, a drug that is supposed to be taken orally should not be taken in the form of an injection. Similarly, it would be inappropriate to take more than the prescribed dose of medication with the intention of increasing the drug’s effect.
4. Prescription drug abuse can also arise from sharing prescriptions Always remember that prescriptions are according to an individual’s basis. It is therefore not advisable for people to use other peoples’ prescriptions. What may be right for a certain individual may not necessarily be right for you?
5. If you are a parent, and especially the parent of a teen, then keeping the prescription drugs out of sight is an important step in preventing drug abuse. In fact, keeping the medicine cabinet under lock and key may be a good idea.
6. These days, there are lots of online websites claiming to sell prescription drugs as well as non-prescription drugs. Nevertheless, only a few of them can be trusted while the rest may even prescribe drugs that contain illegal ingredients, etc.
7. It is also crucial to dispose of unwanted and expired medication in the right manner. This is especially critical if you have teens in the house. Some medications come along with instructions on how to dispose of. For medication, that doesn’t feature disposal instructions. In this case, mixing the medication with substances such as kitty litter and sawdust. Proper disposal of prescription drugs is also a good way of conserving the environment.
8. Prescription drug abuse can also be prevented by ensuring that patients understand what their medication does and doesn’t. This includes knowing the side effects you could experience from the medication. Also, patients should research on avoidable drugs and substances in the course of taking medication.
9. Lastly, prediction drug abuse can be prevented by always keeping track of your treatment. This is a particularly good tactic for use at home. Keeping track of these prescription drugs includes regularly counting the remaining medication and making sure it is the right number.
10. Some experts also suggest that keeping extra prescription drugs for future use is detrimental to the objective of preventing prescription drug abuse. This means that you can avoid prescription drug abuse by not keeping drugs for future use.
Concerns About Teen Access To Prescription Drugs Is Still A Major Issue in 2018
The US has endured something of a drugs crisis in recent years. An influx of synthetic drugs and other illicit substances has put lives at risk. Ongoing issues with substance abuse treatment and affordable healthcare hinder recoveries. Furthermore, access to prescription drugs is at dangerous levels. There are some disturbing statistics relating to teenagers and prescribed medication. Officials estimate that as many as 54 million people aged 12 and over have partaken in non-medical use of these drugs.
Two Major Culprits Here: Opioids and Adderall
Opiate dependency is a major talking point with current drug policy, treatment options, and initiatives. This is where much of the funding and attention lies due to some scary statistics. The US makes up 5 percent of the world’s population and consumes around 80% of the world’s opioid prescription, but makes up just 5% of the world population. Furthermore, an average of 46 people died from prescription opioid overdose each day in 2016. The problem here is that this focus could take attention away from other prescription drugs.
Adderall is still a big problem among teenagers. Adderall is the common drug for ADHD and other attention disorders. The problem is that it has crossed over into misuse and become a “study drug”. In other words, students take this drug, without prescription, to improve their performance at college. Stats show that its use has increased from 5.4% in 2009 to 7.5% this year in high school seniors.
Some may think that this is purely an American issue, but this isn’t the case. There are some people outside of the US that look at healthcare provisions and blame policy for a rise in opioid addiction. Yet, there is also a big problem in many other nations.
The UK is also in the middle of its own opioid crisis right now. Codeine, diazepam, benzos, tramadol each contribute to a rise in opioid abuse in the UK. There are also concerns about the abuse of tranquilizers, such as zopiclone used for insomnia. Rehab providers saw a rise in admissions for prescribed drugs like these of 22% in 2017.
If the problem is getting worse, what can governments and officials do about it?
The advice above for keeping drugs away from teenagers, and disposing of unwanted prescriptions, is still sound. Where possible, it is vital that parents do what they can to limit access. Many teens still say they have free, simple access to painkillers and other drugs through family medicine cabinets.
In fact, as many as 60% of US teens abusing prescription drugs get them directly from friends and relatives. This isn’t just a case where parents are blind to what children are up to. Some actually, knowingly turn a blind eye and let it happen. This is why it is crucial that users see more, both in the US and UK, to combat the use of these prescription drugs in teenagers.
There are three important areas where governments, schools, and parents can help. They are all vital for teenagers and those hooked on prescribed medication. They are:
- Better drug education in schools
- Improved access to drop-off points for unwanted prescriptions
- More support for those addicted to these substances.
Education Is The Perfect Place To Start
Drug-based education is often lacking in many school systems. In some cases, the advice is too soft or limited to certain drugs. Schools warn teenagers of the dangers of illicit, Class A substances such as heroin, cocaine, and MDMA. But, they might not talk about the risks of legal medication when misused.
In other cases, the warnings may come far too late. Pre-teens may have started taking the drug before these programs come into play. Improved education is clearly important because of the following stats. A recent study showed that 50% of high school seniors believe they can try crack or cocaine once or twice without harm. 40% believe that the same is true for heroin.
Source: Drug Enforcement Administration
Improved Access To Drop-off Points Will Reduce Access
If the medication isn’t there for the taking, it can’t do any harm. The problem here is that parents and families don’t always know what to do with their medication. Some also fear stigma that might come from handing it in. One solution here is the drop box. These secure boxes are the perfect place to dispose of unwanted medication. This method is already successful when backed with funding and respect to its users.
Then there is the option of amnesties. Amnesties are a great idea in cases of illegal weapons and drugs. Owners can hand in substances, guns or knives with anonymity, and without repercussion. The same is true here with these prescription drugs. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has its 15th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 28. A previous event included 5,321 collection sites, resulting in 912,300 pounds of unused medications. This is a staggering amount of medication no longer posing a risk.
The Need For Improved Support for those Struggling With Addictions
In some cases, this may all be too little too late. Many teenagers are already hooked on painkillers and Adderall because it was freely available and they didn’t know any better. This is where users need sympathetic, affordable and accessible support to deal with the addiction. Support must come on a national level with recognition of the illness, national programs, and continued insurance.
Then there is the support on a local level. Local clinics need to treat teenagers without judgment. Schools and colleges need to look out for the signs of addiction and guide students and families.
Both the US and UK government have slowly come around to the opioid epidemics sweeping their respective countries. There is the hope that this will lead to improvements in all three areas covered above.
Until then, it is still up to parents and school to keep an eye out for signs of trouble. Parents must handle prescriptions carefully and track drug use. Schools must be open and tolerant while educating children further. That way, the percentages highlighted here may eventually decrease.