Prescription for Disaster
The non-medical use and abuse of prescription drugs is a serious public health problem in this country. Although most people take prescription medications responsibly, an estimated 52 million people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at least once in their lifetimes. They are potentially deadly when taken in large doses or when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Take Gerald Levert, an R&B singer, who passed away at the age of 40. It was accidental acute intoxication because of a combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs; including Vicodin, Percocet, and Darvocet for his shoulder and Achilles tendon injuries, also Xanax for anxiety attacks. Just because they are legal does not mean that pharmaceutical drugs are any less dangerous than illicit drugs.
There are several misconceptions about taking prescription drugs without a prescription. One is that people think because they are prescribed by a doctor and are legal that they must be safe. They tend to believe that they are safer than illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Individuals have confidence in that they are not as addictive. There is also the belief by many using prescription drugs, even recreationally, that they can quit whenever they want. Taking these drugs without knowing the warning signs and getting behind the wheel of a car or heavy machinery, could ultimately be fatal.
The fact is prescription drugs are very powerful and that is why they require a prescription from a doctor, so their use can be monitored more closely. Doctors regulate use of these drugs so they can inform patients about the risk factors and side effects. Taking more than you are prescribed increases your chances of severe side effects and up to addiction. Drug abuse is discriminatory; it does not care about race, gender, age or social status.
Prescription drugs are everywhere, they are advertised daily on television, easily purchased without a prescription online, and most people have them in their medicine cabinets. The younger generation has begun to use them as a way to self-medicate; they get them from home and through friends. Even drug dealers are selling them because they have become more popular than illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana. People are becoming more susceptible to sharing their prescriptions with others, not thinking of the affects they could have. Individuals tend to believe that a pill can fix almost any problem they have because that’s how they are advertised everywhere you look. There continues to be a more social acceptance of using medications, so the misuse is not frowned upon by many as drug abuse.
Many people, of all ages, misuse prescription drugs to relieve pain, if they have sleeping problems, have trouble focusing, or just want to get high. Every person has their own excuses for using. They may be finding different ways to cope with the pressures of life’s demands, dealing with stress that occurs because of adaption, frustration, and overload of daily problems. Peer pressure is and always has been a factor concerning drug abuse. Younger individuals have their own set of rules concerning authority figures and friends, having the mind set to be adventurous and be like others in the “group”. Users think that drugs help them by keeping them motivated, by enhancing their performance, to be more creative, relieve tension, and most commonly it makes them feel good about themselves.
An analysis from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) showed that in 2008 emergency room records reported that more than 4.3 million visits were associated with some form of drug abuse. This number is up over an overwhelming 70 percent from2004. Almost half of the 4.3 million were results of drug misuse or abuse. The remaining 2 million were the result of legal medical use of prescription and over- the- counter drugs. ("Prescription Drugs More Dangerous Than