Prescription Drug Abuse and Ways to Tackle it

In an anti-drug event in Charleston, West Virginia, in October this year, President Obama spoke about the dangers of drug overdose and prescription drug abuse. The president said, “It could happen to any of us… 120 Americans die every day from drug overdoses, most involving legal prescription drugs — that’s more than from car crashes.”

President Obama also expressed his concerns about prescription drugs becoming a “gateway to heroin.” Fighting this menace will require a lot of effort from all political parties, organizations and individuals from every family. The sale of painkillers in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years, which is a clear indication of prescription drug abuse by people.

According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States is in the throes of an unprecedented drug overdose epidemic. The report states: “By 2009, drug overdose deaths outnumbered deaths due to motor vehicle crashes for the first time in the U.S. Prescription drugs, especially opioid analgesics, have been increasingly involved in drug overdose deaths. Opioid analgesics were involved in 30 percent of drug overdose deaths where a drug was specified in 1999, compared to nearly 60 percent in 2010.”

This is alarming, and adequate steps should be taken to curb this rising epidemic. One important step in this direction could be setting up of a prescription drug abuse helpline in every neighborhood to help out people and also spread the awareness.

Preventing prescription drug abuse

It is pragmatic to prevent prescription drug abuse in the first place rather than focus on its cure after its onset. It is a cost-effective option that paves the way for longer life span, improved quality of life and academic performance and healthy interpersonal relationships.

In the CDC study, scientists also came up with several remedies to prevent prescription drug abuse. According to them, “The most effective drug abuse prevention programs are those that help individuals to develop the intentions and skills to act in a healthy manner, and those that create an environment that supports healthy behaviors.”

“A brief universal prevention interventions conducted during middle school can lead to reductions in prescription drug misuse during adolescence and young adulthood,” the study says. These findings can be instrumental in supporting educational institutions to stop drug abuse among students and help them grow into healthy individuals.

Educating the patient and public

Creating awareness about prescription drug abuse among people is one of the most important steps to prevent and reduce it. A public education campaign — Use Only as Directed — held in Utah resulted in a significant reduction in drug overdose deaths in the state. Although people are watchful about purchasing illicit drugs from dealers, they often believe that prescription drugs are less harmful and non-addictive. This false notion has contributed to a substantial rise in the number of prescription drug abuse cases in the recent past.

Educating healthcare providers

People can be made aware of the risks of prescription drug abuse in a better way by educating the healthcare givers about it. Prescription drug addiction treatment help should come from people who have adequate training in both pain management and substance abuse. Healthcare providers need to identify patients who stand at a greater risk of abuse and also ensure that those treated with opioid receive only the required quantity of medication.

Any gap in their knowledge could be detrimental and lead to abuse of the prescribed drugs. It is also imperative for clinicians to have proper clinical tools for rapid identification of high-risk patients.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers prescription drug abuse as a major health concern in the country. To address this issue, there has to be a collective effort from public healthcare providers at the federal, state and local level.

If you or a loved one is grappling with a prescription drug abuse, call 24/7 Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline at 866–450–1557. One of our experts will help you find a treatment and detox program suited to your needs.

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