Prescription Drugs: Use, Misuse & Abuse
The Mayo Clinic defines prescription drug abuse as “the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor. Prescription drug abuse or problematic use includes everything from taking a friend’s prescription painkiller for your backache to snorting or injecting ground-up pills to get high. Drug abuse may become ongoing and compulsive, despite the negative consequences.”
Prescription drug abuse is a growing public health concern. With the increasing number of pain killers and other medically necessary products on the market, the likelihood of a person, particularly the youth, to accidentally overdose or abuse products has been rising.
How has the prescription drug abuse epidemic changed?
Misconceptions about their safety. Because these medications are prescribed by doctors, many assume that they are safe to take under any circumstances. This is not the case: prescription drugs act directly or indirectly on the same brain systems affected by illicit drugs; thus their abuse carries substantial addiction liability and can lead to a variety of other adverse health effects.
Increasing environmental availability. Between 1991 and 2009, prescriptions for opioid analgesics increased from about 45 million to approximately 180 million. Illegal diversion of pharmaceuticals has risen because of availability and high street value profit margin. A recent survey indicates over 64 percent of youth got them from friends and relatives.
How can we stop this epidemic?
BASE, along with community partners, is creating awareness in the community about the risks of addiction and fatalities, due to the abuse of prescription drugs. We are striving to change the perception that experimenting with prescription drugs for recreational purposes is safer than the use of illicit drugs.
Our focus is to reach out to people in the community, utilize prevention education through science based facts and support our partners in law enforcement’s efforts to reduce prescription drug misuse.