Prescription abuse is one of the most difficult substance abuse disorders to diagnose and treat. Often, the prescription medication being abused has been prescribed by a doctor or medical professional and as a result there is a tendency on the part of the addict to deny the possibility of dependence and addiction to the pill. There is a fine line between the appropriate use of prescription medication and abuse and this line is often blurred because of the “official” reason for taking the drug. It is estimated that over 20% of Americans are using a prescription drug for uses other than what was prescribed according to the National Institutes of Health. This shows that the prescription drug abuse problem is growing and must be fought head-on, very aggressively
Prescription drugs are also abused by children of parents who have been prescribed drug. For example, if the parent is no longer using the drug, it may remain in the house without being monitored. This allows the child or young adult to sneak pills from the medicine cabinet without the knowledge of their parents.
Prescription drug abuse has become one of the leading causes of dependence and addiction in the United States and has contributed to a meteoric rise in fatalities, which, according to a Los Angeles Times article, has overtaken traffic fatalities as the leading cause of death in young adults.
Prescription pills come in various forms some of which are synthetic versions of hard drugs like heroin. Opiates, for example, are synthesized from opium which is also the source for heroin. As a result the effects and addictive properties are similarly strong. Opiates, along with sedatives and stimulants are the most commonly prescribed and abused medications in the US.
For the past several years, the US government and drug prevention organizations around the country have tried to bring to light the serious issues surrounding prescription drugs. Many localities and municipalities have started drug collection programs that allow people to deposit their prescription drugs at designated facilities for safe disposal. This is partly in response to many states around the country and especially Florida seeing significant increases in abuse along with more and more pain clinics prescribing medications illegally. Recent crackdowns have started to mitigate the effects of these “pill mills”
As of late, opioid-related overdoses and deaths have spiked, affecting every stratus of society. With the success of law enforcement cracking down on pill mills and the cost of illicit prescription opioid drugs rising, heroin itself has become a cheaper and more available option.
A recent, nationwide push to make Naloxone or Narcan, an opioid antagonist, more available to the non-medical population that routinely comes in contact with those at risk of overdose has many hoping for a decline in deaths associated with opioids.