Prescription Drug Abuse

by on February 15, 2012

Drug abuse is not the same as drug dependence or addiction. With an addiction, you have a physical and psychological need for the drug. Prescription drug abuse is using a drug in a manner other than the way it was prescribed. Treatment for prescription drug abuse is available from even low cost health plans.

Prescription drug abuse is epidemic in the United States.

Most abuse is committed by people who acquire the drug through theft or illegal sales. Because the drugs are pharmaceutical, most people think they can’t be harmed by them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is just as easy to overdose on prescription drugs as illicit drugs. Some people just take too much of the prescribed medication.

Up to 2.4 million U.S. citizens have taken prescription drugs without a doctor’s consent, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Over 50% of those abusers were women, and over 30% were youths aged 12 through 17. The survey showed that teenagers, seniors and women are most likely to abuse prescription medications.

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey from 2009 revealed 20 percent of the teens admitted to abusing prescription drugs. When this many people are abusing medications, health insurance quotes increase.

Three classes of prescription drugs are abused most often:

  • Opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, Demerol and Morphine are used to manage pain. They are frequently abused because the drugs are routinely prescribed for people with chronic pain and are easy to locate.
  • Anti-Depressants like Nembutal, Valium and Xanax are abused by folks who are not suffering from sleep disorders or anxiety attacks. When taken with alcohol, these drugs are lethal.
  • Stimulants like Ritalin, Methedrine and Adderall are used to moderate attention deficit disorders and to treat narcolepsy. Teenaged girls frequently abuse them for weight loss.

How to Avoid Abusing Prescription Medications

  1. Lock your prescriptions safely to keep others from stealing them.
  2. Never share your meds with anyone. If a friend needs a prescription, they can go to the doctor to get one.
  3.  Only use pain medications when you need them. Don’t take them all day, every day just because you have them.
  4.  If you have extra pills after an injury or accident, turn them in to the local police. Don’t save them for later.
  5. Don’t take more than you have been prescribed. Doubling your dose will only increase the level of your dependence.
  6. Advise your doctor of all the medications you're taking to avoid complications from drug interactions.

How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs.

Before you fill a prescription, try an over-the-counter remedy. Usually there’s a perfectly good replacement that will cost less then a prescription. Your insurance may not cover it, but it will still save you money because your health insurance rates won’t be as high.

Prescription drugs abuse is a problem that can be stopped with some strict attention. Take care of your medications, so they can take care of you.

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