Prescription Drug Abuse

When a prescription drug is used in quantities more than the recommended dosage or when not required, it is termed drug abuse. Painkillers, tranquilizers and anti-anxiety drugs are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs.

Generally, patients take medicines as prescribed by their doctors. When taken this way, there is very little chance of the patient getting addicted. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), millions of people today use medications for non-medical purposes.

People try to justify drug abuse by convincing themselves that an overdose of prescription drugs is not as bad as street drugs such as heroin or ecstasy. The truth is that any kind of abuse is unwarranted. The problem with prescription drug abuse is that it starts with the consumption of a few extra pills for quick relief. The patient does not realize that abuse or addiction is likely.

If the doctor discontinues the prescription, an addict will seek out another doctor for a prescription of the same drug under false pretexts. Abusers use various methods to get a high. They even mix prescription drugs with alcohol, marijuana or any other similar drug. Drugs such as Ritalin and OxyContin are among the most abused drugs. Prescribing these drugs is carefully monitored and given only when urgently required.

To battle prescription drug abuse, medication directions must always be followed carefully. The physician must always be consulted regarding any change in dosage. It is not advisable to crush the tablets or take them with alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Also, patients must never use someone else?s prescription, even if the symptoms are similar. The doctors should also exercise caution while prescribing drugs with any possibility of abuse. They must ask patients if they have any history of drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse can be tackled with regular counseling. There is a lot of information on the Internet, and local physicians are always available for consultations.

Drug Abuse and the Gender Gap

Usage rates for prescription drugs continue to rise with nearly 3 in 5 Americans taking prescription drugs including antidepressants and opioids.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that prescription drug usage among people 20 and older had risen to 59 percent from 51 percent just a dozen years earlier and it was rising at a faster rate than ever before. During the same period, the percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs nearly doubled, to 15 percent from 8 percent.

Effects of Gender on Addiction

It is no surprise then that the non-medical use of prescription drugs including painkillers, tranquilizers, and sedatives continue to be a growing problem in the United States. Statistics show men abuse prescription drugs at a higher rate than women, however, the gap between the genders is narrowing. Females age 12 to 17 are less likely to take abuse prescription drug and abuse and distribution is much higher in males of the same age range, according to a recent government study on Gender Medicine. The same report shows that young adult females show a higher percentage rate of addiction to cocaine and prescription drugs even though males in that age group abuse those drugs more frequently and take them in larger amounts.

Disturbingly, more recent statistics show that overdose deaths among young women are increasing, especially those who become addicted to opioids. The CDC Vital Signs reported that deaths from opioid overdose among women have increased 400 percent since 1999. By comparison, young men of the same age group suffered fatal opioid overdoses by approximately 265 percent in that same time frame. The CDC has estimated that as many as 18 women in the United States die every day from an opioid drug overdose, most of which were obtained by prescription.

To continue the disturbing downtrend of drug abuse according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women are less likely to receive adequate treatment for substance abuse than men. Studies show that women are less likely than men to be placed in a specialized but are often treated by primary care providers or through mental health programs instead. Women also face more obstacles that are an impediment to their treatment, such as lower incomes, the possibility of pregnancy, and the need for childcare. In addition, women show more of a tendency to hide their substance abuse for a variety of reason including fear of social stigma, loss of child custody, or repercussions from a partner or spouse.

In the past, studies in drug addiction was from a male perspective for both males and females and drug abuse prevention programs and rehab facilities were designed with an emphasis on the needs of males. In comparison, outreach campaigns, preventive education, and drug rehab today is tailored to address the needs of both men and women as the scientific and medical community become more informed about how and why these addiction patterns occur in both men and women.

With gender roles playing a role in addiction, Gender-specific treatment programs provide a respite from the social stressors of everyday life. Patients can focus on their recovery without the distraction of the opposite sex. Studies show that both men and women feel more comfortable communicating about issues like sexuality, social prejudice, and domestic abuse with members of their own gender.

Both men and women suffering from opiod addiction, both can benefit from comprehensive rehabilitation programs that focus on the full range of care required to be free from addiction. These programs take a patient from detox to residential treatment, partial hospitalization, outpatient services, and transitional living. Effective treatment therapies include:

  • Fitness training
  • Experimental and holistic modalities
  • Follow up programs
  • Family or marriage counseling
  • Nutritional counceling

Having the support of a highly trained, multidisciplinary staff can help individuals of both genders recover from the disease of addiction and regain hope for the future.

According to a SAMHSA report in 2014, men are more likely than women to use all types of illegal drugs that result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths. These drugs include marijuana (according to federal law) and the misuse of prescription drugs. Men in most age groups have a higher rate of use and dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to become addicted but are more likely to become addicted to prescription drugs and illegal drugs. Women are also more susceptible to craving and relapse which are key phases of the addiction cycle.

Going even further in their research SAMHSA found that women of color may face other unique issues with regard to drug use and treatment needs. For example, African-American and American Indian/Alaska Native women are more likely than women of other racial and ethnic groups to be victims of rape, physical violence, and stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime-issues that are risk factors for substance use and should be addressed during treatment.

In addition to drug abuse be affected by personality traits, research has shown that in most instances women use drugs differently, respond to drugs differently, and often have unique obstacles that prevent them from receiving effective treatment. Some of these obstacles being as simple as not being able to find child care or being prescribed treatment that has not been adequately tested on women.

Researchers continue to study to learn more about the differing factors that attribute to drug addiction in males and females. As they are able to effectively identify these factors, the medical community more able to develop programs to increase an individual’s chance of breaking free from addictive lifestyles.

They are learning that the physical and mental differences of both men and women contribute how they are introduced abuse an individual’s ability to be successful in a treatment program

In a July 2016 article CNN reported that:

“according to a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, worldwide, drug use has remained steady over the past four years,. However, researchers found that heroin use in the United States is up 145% since 2007.”

One in 20 adults — roughly a quarter of a billion people between ages 15 and 64 — used at least one illegal or improperly used drug in 2014, according to the World Drug Report 2016. Though the numbers have not grown in proportion to the global population, new trends have developed, including increased sales in anonymous online marketplaces.

The U.N. researchers also reported gender differences in drug use. Men are three times more likely than women to use cannabis, cocaine or amphetamines, while women are more likely to take opioids and tranquilizers for non-medical purposes.

7 Teenage Drug Abuse Myths Exposed

Teenage drug abuse is a serious issue. However, some people, including parents, may not realize the severity because of commonly accepted myths. For parents, it is important to get accurate drug abuse information.

1. Myth: Using prescription drugs is less harmful than street drugs.

Fact: Many prescription medications intended to alleviate pain, depression, or anxiety are just as dangerous and addictive as illegal drugs. Because of this assumption that prescription drugs are safer, many children are more willing to start experimenting with these medications. And more often than not, teenage prescription drug abuse is accompanied by alcohol consumption.

Prescription drugs are only safe when taken as directed by a doctor. The wrong dosage and/or potential interactions with other drugs, one’s diet, or physiological makeup may have damaging or even deadly effects.

2. Myth: Using alcohol or marijuana as a teenager is a normal part of growing up.

Fact: Less than half of American teenagers drink alcohol or smoke marijuana. Exposing a developing child to such substances is illegal for good reason. Besides the lasting damage it can cause to the brain, using substances can also harm teenagers’ social development.

In hindsight, people who experimented with substances as teenagers report they were “looking for something.” Trying to have a good time, simplifying social interactions, or solving problems with drugs or alcohol often means they are learning to go to those substances for help. This maladaptive learning process is not easily unlearned.

3. Myth: Drug testing will only further alienate my child.

Fact: If a child is demonstrating signs and symptoms such as isolation, sleeping during abnormal times, becoming increasingly argumentative and confrontational, or easily agitated, then something serious may be wrong. Drug testing is a starting point for discerning what’s wrong and finding a solution. Mending a tumultuous relationship with your child begins with understanding the problem.

4. Myth: Drug abuse only really happens in impoverished or low-income areas.

Fact: Studies have found drug addiction and alcoholism occurs across socio-economic levels and ethnicities. Drug abuse is prevalent in both private and public schools throughout the country. Although rates of substance abuse vary somewhat based on gender, age, and socio-economic status, about one in 10 people who abuse drugs become addicted, which is why some mental healthcare professionals refer to drug use as Russian Roulette.

5. Myth: Drug addiction is a question of moral fiber or character.

Fact: Most addicts start as occasional drug users. While some may view drug use as an immoral choice, drug addiction is a “disease of the brain,” says Dr. Alan Leshner, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. At a certain point, the choice to use becomes a compulsion. Changes in brain chemistry through drug abuse result in uncontrollable drug addiction.

6. Myth: An addict or alcoholic has to really want to be sober for drug treatment to be effective.

Fact: A majority of youth sent to treatment centers are not there through choice. When drugs or alcohol consume a person, the last thing they “want” is rehabilitation. Whether for legal reasons or family reasons, many people seeking substance abuse treatment did not make the choice alone. In fact, those who have been pressured into treatment through a process of confrontation, coercion, or ultimatum appear to do better. Studies demonstrate that the reason someone seeks treatment has little influence on how well they will do.

7. Myth: After a treatment program, an addict shouldn’t need any more treatment.

Fact: Unfortunately, drug addiction is generally a lifelong struggle. Like many diseases, relapse and remission cycles are possible. Although some people can quit immediately, or after one drug treatment program, most require long term plans with strong support and resources and even repeated treatment programs.