Many prescription drug addictions begin with a legitimate health problem. An individual that suffers from chronic pain from a significant injury may receive a prescription painkiller prescription, but a short time later ever-increasing doses may be needed to achieve the same relief. What begins as a chronic health problem can lead to a full-blown addiction.
In many cases a physician is able to help them manage their pain within the safe realm of prescription drug treatment. In other cases, patients may begin to seek out additional sources of medication when their doctor refuses increased doses. When a patient sees multiple doctors without coordinating their prescriptions and begins mixing prescription painkillers an overdose can result.
Of course pills are also used recreationally by those who want quick and free access to drugs that produce a high similar to those experienced with street drugs. A trend popular among teens and young adults are “pill parties” in which medications are raided from a relative or friend’s medicine cabinet. They are then taken to a party where the various medications are dumped into a bowl so partygoers can try unique drug combinations.
Many teens mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are a safer option when compared to street drugs like heroin or cocaine. However, the result of prescription drug use can be just as devastating. Overdose and death can occur with prescription drugs and the side effects may make the user miserable as well.
Much of the availability of prescription drugs could be addressed through awareness campaigns that target practices related to prescription drugs in the home. For instance, medications could be kept locked up and pill counts monitored. In addition, statewide or nationwide prescription monitoring systems can be used to determine whether an individual is abusing a medication or dangerously mixing various prescription drugs.
Another important step is to ensure that doctors are adequately educating patients about the potential for drug addiction. Physicians can carefully monitor their patients’ doses and work closely with them to manage their pain in other ways.
Raising awareness about prescription drug misuse and abuse is also a way to help individuals find help before the problem gets out of control. Many people refuse to admit they’re struggling because of shame. Helping the public reframe their ideas of what a drug addict looks like may help those struggling to admit they have a problem.