Prescription drug abuse is generally the same between men and women, except among 12 to 17 year olds. In this age group, research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that females are more likely to use psychotherapeutic drugs for non-medical purposes. Research has also shown that women in general are more likely to use narcotic pain relievers and tranquilizers for non-medical purposes.
There may also be a perception, especially among younger people, that prescription drugs are safer than illegal street drugs. Most people don’t lock up their prescription medications, nor do they discard them when they are no longer needed for their intended use, making them vulnerable to theft or misuse. According to the Healthy Youth Survey, 12 percent of 12th graders used prescription pain medications to get high in the past 30 days. The same survey also shows that an alarming number of younger kids experiment with these drugs. That's why it's critical to learn how to properly safeguard and dispose of your medications. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that more than 47 percent of teens get prescription drugs from their friends for free. About 10 percent buy them from their friends, and another 10 percent take them from friends without asking.
Prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 20 percent of people in the United States have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Some prescription drugs can become addictive, especially when they are used in a manner inconsistent with their labeling or for reasons they were not prescribed. Those include narcotic painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin, sedatives and tranquilizers like Xanax or Valium, and stimulants like Dexedrine, Adderall or Ritalin.
Pharmacists can play a key role in preventing prescription drug abuse and addiction by providing clear information and advice about how to take a medication appropriately, about the effects the medication may have, and about any possible drug interactions. Pharmacists can help prevent prescription fraud or diversion by looking for false or altered prescription forms. Many pharmacies have developed "hotlines" to alert other pharmacies in the region when a fraud is detected.
There are also steps a patient can take to ensure that they use prescription medications appropriately. Patients should always follow the prescribed directions, be aware of potential interactions with other drugs, never stop or change a dosing regimen without first discussing it with their healthcare provider, and never use another person's prescription. Patients should inform their healthcare professionals about all the prescription and OTC medicines and dietary and herbal supplements they are taking, in addition to a full description of their presenting complaint, before they obtain any other medications.
Prescription drug abuse is a problem which affects people of all income levels, ages, and stations in life. Quite often the last person to see that there is a problem is the addict. Families try to help their loved ones to no avail. Companies have a difficult choice when faced with an once valuable employee or executive who has, due to some turn in life, developed a prescription drug abuse problem - to help them or to fire them. When this is the case it is important to talk to the individual about their prescription drug use and see if they are ready to quit using drugs. For those who are not, the family, friends, or colleagues can perform what is known as an intervention. This may help the addict to see how much their prescription drug abuse has hurt their friends and family.
It may be helpful to talk to a counselor about receiving prescription drug abuse treatment. Some counselors specialize in prescription drug abuse, however all counselors should be able to offer you help. A good counselor can help you to work out how best to manage your prescription drug intake. Counseling can either be done in a group or individually. By speaking to a counselor they can help you work out which option is best for you.
A drug abuse rehab that handles prescription drug abuse treatment is another option. A treatment program can enable the individual to achieve lasting abstinence from prescription drug use. The goal of a drug rehab is to help the individual through detox and withdrawal from prescription drugs and to improve their ability to function in society again. It will help minimize the medical and social complications of prescription drug abuse.