Prescription drug abuse and addiction is something frequently over looked. Stigma is guided by perception and in the field of addiction there is a hierarchy of stigma. A common stigma easily identified is the public perception surrounding licit and illicit drugs. Alcohol is perceived as a lesser evil because it is a legal substance, whereas heroin for instance is perceived as one of the most dangerous and hardcore drugs because it is illegal. Alcohol is in fact one of the most dangerous and toxic substances that people abuse and yet it continues to carry less of a social stigma. Prescription pills are perceived as more socially acceptable because they are legal substances that are prescribed by doctors. However, prescription pills often get acquired illicitly and subsequently abused.
Prescription drug abuse is defined as taking a prescribed drug for non-medical use or not as prescribed. Prescription pills come in almost every class of drug with the most commonly abused being pain killers (Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin), Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium), and amphetamines (Adderall & Ritalin). Women and teenagers are two populations significantly affected by the prescription pill epidemic. The CDC reports that the rate of deaths cause by prescription pill overdoses has more than tripled from 1999-2008. There is a public notion that since prescription pills are legal, and people get them from a doctor, that they are in fact safer than illegal drugs. This is not true. Many first time users and careless consumers will take a higher dosage than prescribed or mix combinations of drugs and/or alcohol which can lead to overdosing. In some cases overdose can occur without the presence of an addiction.
It is estimated by National Survey of Drug Use and Health that around 60-70% of prescription drug abusers get the pills from family members or friends, about 17% have a prescription of their own, and about 5-10% get them from dealers or the internet. The accessibility of prescription pills being around the house of family members and friends entices a lot of curious first time users to experimentation, especially adolescents. The public’s perception may blur the lines on the acceptability of using prescription pills recreationally or for self-medication but in actuality the line is clearly drawn. Using prescription pills for nonmedical use or using someone else’s prescription for one’s own use is in fact drug abuse and needs to be addressed.
If you or a loved one needs help for prescription drug abuse, New Hope Recovery Center is here to help. If you would like information about our programs, contact us at 888-707-4636 (HOPE), firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us in person.
Written by: New Hope Recovery Center
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