Prescriptions drugs meant to treat a variety of conditions are abused every day throughout the country. Whether it’s painkillers, depressants, stimulants, or steroids, they all have the capacity to make someone very ill. Prescription drug abuse hotlines are there for who want to reach out and create a plan to deal with such addictions.
Prescription drug abuse is a significant problem in the United States, with 54 million people having used one non-medically in 2016. This represents 20% percent of the US population older than 12. In that year, the following number of people were currently abusing these medications(which does not take into account those who abused them infrequently):
- Painkillers: 3.3 million
- Tranquilizers: 2 million
- Stimulants: 1.7 million
- Sedatives: 0.5 million
The age of the person abusing drugs tends to influence which substance they prefer. People ages 18 to 25 abuse prescription drugs the most (4.6%). Approximately 6% of high school seniors said they’d abused the stimulant Adderall in 2017, while 2% said they’d abused the opioid painkiller Vicodin that year.
Did You Know?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, prescription opioids contributed to more than 200,000 overdose deaths between 1999 and 2016.
Why Are Prescription Drugs Abused?
Prescription drugs are often abused because of:
- Misperceptions about their safety. Just because they are used in a controlled medical setting doesn’t make them safe for every day use.
- Increased availability. Prescriptions for stimulants, opioids, and analgesics increased significantly in the past 20 years, with correspondingly increasing numbers of abuse.
- Different motivations for abuse. People use prescription drugs non-medically for a variety of reasons, such as to get high, to counter anxiety, pain or sleep problems, or to enhance cognition (for example, a student taking drugs to better remember material for an exam or to study better).
Complications of Prescription Drug Use
Prescription drug abuse help lines have helped many manage their addiction and find the correct treatment program. Drugs can cause severe complications that can alter a prescription drug user’s life forever.
- Opioid painkillers and other painkillers are known to cause an increased risk of choking, the loss of menstrual periods and fertility, a slowed breathing rate and potential for breathing to stop. Other effects include lack of energy, inability to concentrate, apathy, nausea and vomiting.
- Depressants, often prescribed to treat a wide range of health conditions but most commonly used for anxiety, panic attacks, tension, serious stress reactions and sleep disorders, have been know to cause memory problems and abnormal body temperatures. Other health risks include loss of coordination, respiratory depression, dizziness due to lowered blood pressure, slurring of speech, poor concentration, and feeling confused. An overdose can cause coma or death.
- Stimulants, usually used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, can cause seizures, tremors, and hallucinations and carry an increased risk of stroke. Other risks related to stimulant abuse are increased heart and respiratory rates, sweating excessively, tremors, vomiting, anxiety, hostility, and aggression and in particularly severe cases, suicidal and homicidal tendencies as well as convulsions and cardiovascular collapse.
- Steroids are used in a medical setting to treat those with testosterone levels below the norm or those with symptoms of body wasting, like cancer patients. Their abuse is most often related to the desire to improve physical appearance, like wanting to build muscle or change body shape. Common health complications can include liver cysts, liver cancer, kidney cancer, severe acne, hair loss, and jaundice.
When the desire to change is there, one of the first steps can be contacting a prescription drug abuse hotline. The help and support of family members and friends have been proven to be very positive factors to successful recovery.
Signs of a Problem
If any of the following signs of addiction are familiar to you, seeking advice from a prescription drug abuse hotline or a trusted medical or psychological clinicians are good options.
Have you ever:
- Felt the need to cut down on your use of prescription medication?
- Unsuccessfully attempted to cut down or quit?
- Felt annoyed by remarks from your friends or loved ones about your use of prescription drugs?
- Felt guilty or remorseful about your use of drugs?
- Used prescription drugs as a way to get a kick start, get more energy, or to calm down?
- Consumed more drugs than prescribed?
- Gone from doctor to doctor in search of prescriptions?
- Lied about your prescription drug use?
- Experienced negative consequences at school, work, or with the law related to your prescription drug abuse?
When choosing to call a prescription drug abuse hotline, being prepared to answer honestly about the extent of the problem, what issues it is causing, and how serious you or the addicted person is about getting help are crucial. Being open and upfront about treatment goals and asking a lot of questions will help you make the best decision possible.
What to Ask
When you call a hotline or speak to a experience professional about your treatment options, you might ask the following questions:
- How can I tell if I need treatment?
- What are the detox treatment options in my area?
- Do they offer medically assisted detox?
- What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment?
- Which should I consider, given my situation?
- Are the treatment facilities staffed with licensed, experienced clinicians?
- What are my payment options for treatment?
It can be nerve-wracking to ask for help at first, but there are caring professionals who are happy to guide you through the process so you can get the treatment you need. You simply need to reach out to one today.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). What is the scope of prescription drug misuse?
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2017). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Prescription Opioid Data.