Contributing Factors to the Rise in Prescription Drug Abuse
Addiction to prescription drugs has become an epidemic. The most widely abused prescription drugs are tranquilizers, opioids, analgesics/pain relievers, sedatives, antidepressants, and stimulants. According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there are several factors that contribute to the increase in abuse of non medical prescription drugs and “some groups (such as youth, women, older adults, health care professionals, street children and civilians, and armed forces in post conflict situations) appear to be particularly at risk.” In 2010, there were over 209 million opioid prescriptions issued for chronic pain.
Many drugs are prescribed to relieve emotional pain, such as depression, anxiety, or insomnia and even more, are prescribed for mental health issues. Pain medications are the most abused and diverted, of these controlled substances, as the ease of access increases or it is made possible when addicts buy, borrow, and steal them to feed their habits. There is also a misconception that prescription drugs are safer than other drugs, but the report states that “in the USA, at least 23% of drug-related emergency department admissions and 20.4% of all single drug-related emergency department deaths are due to the non-medical use of prescription drugs.”
Learning to cope with this addiction is not easy but, this is a disease that can be controlled through the abstinence and efforts of the addict along with support from family, friends, and others who can help.
The health and social consequences of addiction to prescription drugs is compelling and when you know someone suffering from this addiction, it may seem that there is little hope. Everything becomes more challenging and stressful, but, help in coping with addiction to prescription drugs can be found through:
- Counseling and treatment rehab centers
- Twelve-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
- Family or friends
- Church and religious organizations
- Community sponsorships or partnerships which promote drug free living
- Support groups
- Primary care providers, insurance, and employee assistance programs for substance abuse problems
Coping with Addiction to Prescription Drugs
Dishonesty, anger, denial, and many other negative behaviors are common among prescription drug abusers. These drugs take a toll on the addict’s physical and mental health as well as the health of those who are for them. Coping with someone who has an addiction to prescription drugs requires patience and understanding. Know that you simply, cannot control, and are not responsible for their actions or any resulting consequence. The most positive things that one can do during these difficult times are to:
- Take care of your physical and mental health. Maintain a normal lifestyle and don’t let the addict’s problems become yours
- Seek help from trusted family or friends and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help or worry about someone being judgmental and distancing themselves. If they care, they will respect your decision to ask for help and your honesty regarding the issue
- Consult with an intervention specialist or other professionals that can help
- Encourage open communication and accept limitations, be patient and avoid creating conflict or further damaging the relationship
- Do not enable the addict by providing money and other means for them to use
Remember, the addict has a greater chance of recovery when they are supported by the people they trust, so caring for yourself is the first step in learning to cope.