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Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse

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What does prescription drug abuse mean? It is the use of a medication that is prescribed by a physician in a way for which it is not intended. For example: A person may need a narcotic pain reliever after surgery, serious illness or injury. However, after this condition improves the person continues to use the prescription. They are now abusing the drug.

While most people can take narcotic, antidepressant and stimulate prescription medication without any problems there are a large number that become addicted or dependent upon them. A recent study has shown that about 20% of the U.S. population has used prescription drugs in a way other than prescribed.

Prescription drug abuse rates ahead of cocaine, heroin and other drugs. The only drug that is abused more widely than prescriptions is marijuana. Steroid abuse is becoming increasingly high especially among men. Steroids are prescribed to help increase muscle mass in people who have conditions such as AIDS or some types of cancer. Many athletes have begun to mis-use steroids in order to keep fit for their sport.

Easy access to prescription medication is one reason that the abuse levels have risen in the past few years. More medications are being prescribed by physicians for a variety of ailments. Most people do not lock up their prescription drugs, making them easier to steal. Additionally, online pharmacies are a growing trend. The majority of these businesses are legitimate; however there are some who do not require a prescription or any type of identification. This makes it all the more easy for abusers to obtain drugs.

Teenagers are among the largest group of prescription drug abusers. In 2000 alone there was an estimated 2 million new prescription drug abusers in this age group. OxyContin and Vicodin are the most widely mis-used prescription drugs within this age group. Steroid use in young men has also become a growing problem. Many youth look up to athletes as heroes and therefore feel that if an athlete takes steroids to become better at what they do, then so can the youth.

Many young people have heard that certain prescription medication will make a person lose weight, feel better about themselves and even have more fun. They feel that since these were prescribed by a physician they are less likely to be addictive than illegal drugs. Parents, grandparents, siblings and friends have medication and it works for them, so why not try it out.

Another group that is very susceptible to prescription drug abuse is the elderly. Depression is a major complaint of older people. Many physicians will prescribe an anti-depressant medication for a person and once they begin to feel a little better, some may think that if more is taken then they will feel better quicker.

The news is filled with stories on celebrities entering drug rehab or rehab programs. This leads the general public to feel that misusing prescription drugs is not dangerous and if they mis-use drugs, there is always some way to get help overcoming this problem. They think there is a simple fix to a bigger problem then the eye can see.

REFERENCES:
http://www.nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Prescription/prescription.html
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prescriptiondrugabuse.html

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