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– Introduction

Abuse of and addiction toprescription drugs are on the rise at alarming rates.The leading factor responsible for the rapid growth in prescription drug abuse is accessibility to the medications.Many patients who are prescribed pain-killers for legitimate medical concerns may go on to use the drugs in excess and to become addicted. Also, these drugs are available for kids to experiment with; and can be found right in their own home’s medicine cabinet, on the internet, or maybe prescribed by a doctor. Due to accessibility to the medications, data compiled through exhaustive research has revealed that the abuse of prescription drugs is especially prevalent among adolescents.

Statistics On Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse released startling numbers from a study conducted in 2006. The data – which was released in March 2008 – reported approximately 7 Million Americans were using psychotherapeutic drugs during 2006. The 7 Million Americans (just less than 3% of the entire population) which were studied were using the prescription drugs non-medically. In other words, the drugs were used to chase a feeling of euphoria or to “get high”.
The class of drugs reported on is called psychotherapeutic drugs; those which target the central nervous system and which may be a part of treatment for various psychiatric disorders.. Following is a general breakdown of the classes of drugs studied and their non-medical usage in 2006:

  • 5.2 million Americans relied on PAINKILLERS
  • 1.8 million Americans abused TRANQUILIZERS
  • 1.2 million Americans compulsively used STIMULANTS
  • 0.4 million Americans were addicted to SEDATIVES

There is no proof or reason to believe, that these figures have dropped since 2006. In fact, there are indicators that prove that use in every class of these drugs continues to increase. Figures compiled in 2007 found that approximately 10% of 12th-grade students had used or were using the painkillers OxyContin and/or Vicodin for non-medicinal purposes. Non-medical use of amphetamines remains on the rise also; 7.5% of 12th graders admitted to abusing “speed” while abuse of Ritalin was reported by 3.8%.

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Opioids addiction (which includes OxyContin, Vicodin, and others) is most commonly prescribed to treat pain. The risks associated with Opioids are wide-ranging and can be extreme. This class of drugs is highly-addictive and responsible for many deaths due to overdose. Mixing Opioids with any other drug (including alcohol) often leads to respiratory distress or respiratory failure. Some users crush the drugs, liquify and inject directly into their bloodstream to get a quicker “rush”. The danger of overdose is higher among those who inject these drugs and they are at greater risk of contracting HIV or Hepatitis through us of dirty or shared needles.

Central Nervous System Depressants

CNS (Central Nervous System) Depressants include the Opioids; tranquilizers like Xanax and Klonopin as well as other drugs used as sedatives (commonly called sleeping pills).This group of drugs is also extremely addictive and can be accompanied by severe withdrawal dangers. Chronic users who wish to discontinue using these types of drugs should do so only when managed by a medical professional. Mixing Xanax, Klonopin or any type of sedative with another drug (including alcohol) can result in a slowing of the respiratory system and may result in death. The risk of overdose is high when using CNS Depressants.


Stimulants (such as Adderall,Ritalin, and others) are often viewed as ‘safe’ and a means to enhance academic achievement and to lose weight. These drugs are not safe; they may result in death just like any other prescription drugs we have discussed. Instead of suppressing body functions, stimulants can result in dangerously high blood pressure, body temperatures of over 107 degrees, organ failure, cardiac arrest, and death.
Because the largest number of prescription drug abuse is carried out by adolescents, parents need to know what to look for if they suspect their child is using drugs:

  • Differences in behavior; a once laid back child is now “bouncing off the walls”. The adolescent who was once full of energy is now lethargic and sleeping more than usual.
  • Insomnia, constant movement and/or twitching of joints and muscles
  • Rapid (unexplained) weight gain or weight loss.
  • Mood Swings – You may observe a wide range of moods – sometimes in a matter of minutes; swinging from mellow to violent. If this is not typical behavior for your loved one, you may have reason to be concerned.
  • Loss of Interest – Drug abusers often lose interest in things they once enjoyed. They become more and more content to spend long periods of time in isolation.

Find A Way To Recovery

If you, or a loved one, are concerned about prescription drug abuse, you may feel better knowing that recovery is a truly viable option. Many millions of addicts live rich and fulfilling lives, free from substance abuse. Most addicts cannot recover without some type of aid; there is a great deal of help available. Twelve-step groups (like A.A. or Narcotics Anonymous – N.A.)have proven to be the path to successful recovery for many millions of people.

Other addicts recover through in-patient or out-patient treatment programs or by receiving one-on-one counseling with an addictions specialist. The important thing to know is you can quit if you have the desire to.


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