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Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is considered a serious problem, and their use and abuse is especially problematic among young people. Among children ages 12 to 17, prescription drug abuse is second only to the abuse of marijuana. In 2007, almost two million people in the US had an addiction to prescription drugs. About sixteen million people in this country have admitted to using prescription drugs recreationally.

The nonmedical usage of prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and anxiety medicines like Xanax is a multimillion-dollar business, albeit an illegal one. Prescription drug addiction isn’t just a problem for someone who’s had a severe injury. The three most widely abused categories of prescription drugs are stimulants, opiates, and depressants.

Drugs like Valium or Oxycontin produce a kind of euphoria that is greatly magnified when the tablets are crushed and snorted. Over time, a prescription drug addict has to take more and more to get the same effect, because the drug changes the workings of the brain. The addict develops a physical dependency on the drug, which is next to impossible to beat without medical help.

On the other hand, stimulants are extremely popular among college students and those who are under any kind of pressure, such as a person in a high-stress job. When an addict takes these prescription drugs in higher-than-recommended dosages cardiac arrhythmia, high body temperatures, and paranoia can result. Here are some fast facts about teens and prescription drug use and addiction:

  • A lot of teens think that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs.

  • Girls are more likely than boys to abuse and become addicted to prescription drugs.

  • Many teens turn to prescription drugs because they are readily available- kids get them for free, from friends and family.


Source: SAMHSA, Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings

Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem in every state, and more than forty percent of first-time drug users got their start with prescription drugs. When most people think of “hardcore drugs” they think of cocaine or heroin, but problems with those two drugs are minor when compared with the dangers presented by prescription drug addiction.

The abuse of, and addiction to prescription drugs does not discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life- young and old (almost 20% of those 60 or older abused prescription drugs in 2006). Younger people take them for their euphoric effects, and to some extent, to fit in with their peers. In these situations, alcohol abuse often goes hand in hand with prescription drug addiction- a deadly mix.

If you or someone you know has a problem with prescription drugs, help should be sought as soon as possible. The longer a prescription drug addiction goes untreated, the more the person must take to get high, and they have a much greater risk of death by overdose. The breaking of an addiction to prescription drugs must be medically supervised, because withdrawal symptoms are often painful and debilitating, and must be treated with medicine. Your doctor will be able to refer you to a good drug treatment program.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) –
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) –
National Institue of Health (NIH) –

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