If you live in the United States, it is likely that you are aware of the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Each year, doctors prescribe millions of medications meant for safe administration, and each year millions of people gain access to these medications and fall victim to abuse. Even more troubling is the fact that this form of substance abuse is increasing in popularity among a younger sector of people. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people aged 18 to 25 years old are the ones who abuse prescription drugs most. Some of the most commonly abused medications are opioid painkillers, stimulants (such as for ADHD), and drugs for relief of anxiety or depression.
It is clear that the dark trend of prescription drug abuse is growing in the United States. What is not always clear is a method to successfully stop or prevent this abuse. However, there are measures people can take to prevent abuse before it happens, to help a person stop abuse, and to raise awareness in order to help others.
How To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
With any form of substance abuse, prevention is one of the best forms of defense against it. There may be many types of prevention methods, but here are some basic ones that have shown to be effective:
- Keep medications in a safe place. Many people who struggle with abuse gain access to medications through someone close to them. Store medications in a locked cabinet, and keep a tally of how many of each medication you should have at any time.
- Always take prescriptions as directed by your doctor. This includes dosage and methods of administration. In other words, if your symptoms persist, don’t take a higher dosage without discussing it with your doctor first. Also, resist taking your medications by any method other than prescribed (i.e. snorting or chewing for faster release).
- Do not take anyone else’s medication. Even if someone’s symptoms are similar to or the same as yours, everyone has different needs, and reacts to medications differently than others. Speak to a physician to ensure proper diagnosis and to obtain legal prescriptions.
- Be open with your doctor about other medications you are taking. It is best to be sure which active ingredients are working in your medication to ensure they don’t adversely react to any other medications you are taking.
In addition to taking preventative measures, it is also important to help raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Employers, communities, and individuals alike can work together to teach people about the potential threat of addiction posed by misuse of medications. Because those facing drug abuse the most tend to be in their early twenties, it is of particular importance to spread the message to teens. Here are some ideas for raising awareness:
- Discuss: whether in a one-on-one setting with your teen son or daughter, or in a group setting at a community event, starting the conversation is the first step.
- Establish guidelines. Make sure your son or daughter knows that you keep your medications safe, and you are keeping count. Let them know you trust them, and that is why you are trusting them with this information.
- Be sure to safely get rid of all your medications. It isn’t always safe to throw them away, or flush them, so talk to your pharmacist about safe ways to do this.
Learn The Signs Of Abuse
Sometimes, prevention is not enough. In those cases, you may want to learn the warning signs of abuse. One major sign may be when a person frequently loses a medication, and ask doctors repeatedly for this prescription. Doctors have to be wary of these patients, and note when this happens regularly. Another warning sign could be when people jump between doctors frequently, seeking the medication they want.
Prescription drugs can be dangerous in that people may believe these drugs are “safer” to abuse because they are prescribed by doctors. But abuse of substances is often not without side effects, and prescription drug abuse is no exception. For example, the majority of people who first abuse prescription opioids later fall victim to heroin abuse. To avoid further substance abuse, it can help to know what prescription drug abuse looks like.
Treating Prescription Drug Abuse
The substance abuse epidemic is far-reaching, but you do not have to be a part of it. In fact, you can be one of the few who get the help they need. Professional treatment is one of the best modern methods to stop drug abuse, and you can get started on your recovery today. Contact us at DrugRehab.org to find out more about your treatment opportunities.
Mayo Clinic—Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
National Institute on Drug Abuse—Abuse of Prescription Drugs Affects Young Adults Most
National Institute on Drug Abuse—How Can Prescription Drug Misuse Be Prevented?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services—SAMHSA’s Efforts