The recent death of Prince, the music legend, sent waves of grief across the world. It was reported that he died of an accidental overdose of powerful opioid fentanyl. Apparently, he was taking medications to manage chronic pain. Inadvertently, he became the poster child of what can happen with chronic use of such medications.
Ironically, the case of Prince is just the tip of the iceberg of the prescription drug abuse problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Prescription drug abuse is second only to marijuana as the country’s most prevalent illicit drug use problem. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that an estimated 119 million Americans aged 12 years or older, almost 44.5 percent of the total population, had used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Out of these, 18.9 million people misused the drugs.
The survey focused on four categories of drugs – pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives. It redefined misuse as usage of drugs in anyway not directed by the doctor, including use without a prescription of one’s own; use in amounts greater, more often or longer than the prescribed period.
People most likely to misuse prescription drugs
Not all people who were being treated with prescription drugs misused them. As a matter of fact, 84.1 percent of people using these drugs did not misuse them. In addition, adults aged 18 years or older who did not have mental illnesses were less likely to misuse the drugs than those who did. It was observed that people who abused other substances in the past, such as heroin (72.1 percent) or alcohol (5.9 percent) were more likely to abuse prescription drugs.
The report ascertained that recent initiates into such drug abuse, in the age group of 12 to 49 years, got into the habit in their early to late 20s.
Reasons for misuse
Prescription drug misuse usually have innocent beginnings. What can start as a mere incidence to relieve stress during a difficult time or to help sleep, can quickly turn into a habit that morphs into an addiction. Sometimes chronic pain due to injury can lead to addiction to pain killers.
The report revealed that 62.6 percent people misused pain relievers to get relief from physical pain. Among those who misused tranquilizers 44.9 percent did so to alleviate stress and 20.4 percent to help get some sleep. Studies in the past had noticed that one of the reasons young adults misused stimulants was to be alert, stay awake or to help concentrate or study. The 2015 report reaffirmed this finding. As for sedative misuse 71.7 percent used it to help get some sleep.
Though the reasons for which drugs were misused seemed legitimate and close to what the drugs had been prescribed for. However, by definition use without one’s own prescription or taking a dose higher than or more often than prescribed still constituted misuse.
Source of the drugs
The reason that prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. can be attributed to the ease of access to these drugs. The report confirmed that for 53.7 percent of people aged 12 years or older, the most common source was a friend or a relative. About one third misused the prescription from a doctor. Only about one in 20 people bought the pain reliever that they misused from a drug dealer or a stranger.
Recovery road map
Prescription drug abuse is a pervasive problem today in our society. If you or someone close to you is battling prescription drug abuse, seek help now. You can get assistance from the relevant prescription drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S. The Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline can assist you in finding the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers. Our addiction treatment experts can guide you to the best rehab in your area. For more information, chat online with one of our representatives or call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 450-1557.