Prescription Drug Abuse: Popping Pills May Turn Fatal

The United States, which has nearly 4.5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 75 percent of the globally consumed prescription drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This rampant abuse of prescription drugs has left the country limping towards a devastating state, which could devour the population if there is no effective intervention immediately.

Prescription drug abuse is also a precursor to other substance abuse for most young adults. According to a 2015 survey, titled “Painkillers Often Gateway to Heroin for U.S. Teens,” three quarters of the American high school students who use heroin started out with narcotic painkillers. The survey which was published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence claims that people who become dependent on painkillers often end up abusing heroin because it is cheaper and more readily available than these pills.

According to Joseph Palamar, the lead researcher of the survey and assistant professor of population health at the New York University, “The more times a teen uses non-prescribed painkiller pills, the greater the risk he or she is at for becoming dependent on the drug.”

With a situation like this, a prescription drug addiction helpline would always be overworked. The prescription drug abuse treatment, considered the best in the country, witnesses a steep rise in cases of prescription drug abuse.

Drugs to watch out for

It is important to have some knowledge about drugs which are more commonly abused by addicts. Few names worth mentioning are:

Fentanyl,
Hydrocodone,
Oxycodone,
Hydromorphone,
Pentobarbital sodium,
Diazepam,
Alprazolam,
Dextroamphetamine
In fact, fentanyl has become a big concern in Canada because of the increasing number of deaths and near-death overdoses of the drug. Sadly, the abused drug is meant to be used only for treatment of chronic pain, especially in cancer patients.

The illegally manufactured fentanyl in the form of pills or powders is more dangerous because there is no quality control or regulation for it. They may contain toxic contaminants or different levels of fentanyl in each batch. Even pills produced in the same batch may have little to lethal levels of fentanyl.

Path to recovery

Along with treatment, educating people and young adults is also vital to eliminating or at least reducing the incidences of prescription drug abuse in the country.

Kana Enomoto, the acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has rightly said, “Whether people are struggling with alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit substances, seeking help is a critical step toward achieving recovery.”

“Most other drugs are illegal in all contexts, yet these drugs — the most dangerous drugs — are prescribed by doctors and are often sitting there in parents’ medicine cabinets and if teens don’t believe warnings about street drugs, then why would they be afraid to use government-approved, pharmaceutical-grade pills,” Enomoto asked.

The SAMHSA administrator believes that treatment helps people with substance abuse problem to regain their lives. And, “as with other life-threatening conditions, this step can be the difference between life and death. We need to encourage people to seek help. Treatment works. People recover.”

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Teen Drug Abuse

Drug abuse by teenagers is very common, which can lead to disastrous consequences in the future. A large proportion of deaths in people between 15 and 24 are reportedly connected in some way or the other to drug or alcohol abuse. Such abuse also leads to violent criminal acts, such as assault, murder or rape. Some young people also take drugs to overcome depression and anxiety.

If a young member of your family suddenly starts behaving in a aberrant manner or tries to keep aloof from other family members, you have some reasons to be suspicious. Physical signs like red eyes, nagging cough, and changes in eating and sleeping habits should also serve as warning signals.

A teenager with a family history of drug abuse and a lack of social skills can move rapidly from the level of experimentation to grave abuse or dependency. Some other teenagers, who have no family history of such abuse, may also reach the level of utter dependency. Although any prediction is almost impossible, teenagers with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse should especially abstain and refrain from experimenting.

The user’s preoccupation with drugs, plus its effects on mood and performance, can lead to poor performance in schools, colleges or workplaces, resulting in dismissal. A child’s drug abuse can devastate parents and other family members, and ruin family life. According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, teens and their parents view drugs as their biggest concern.

The effects of different types of drugs on teenagers include irritability, insomnia, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, violent behavior, memory loss, learning problems, increased heart rate, lethargy, panic attacks, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, daily coughs and phlegm, more frequent chest colds, muscle tension, teeth clenching, dehydration, hypothermia, brain damage, and death.

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