The United States of America is a nation gripped by drug addiction. In fact, over 10% of American adults now experience at least one substance use disorder in their lifetimes.
Here, at Grand Falls Recovery Addiction Treatment Center, we actively treat a wide range of addictions ranging from alcohol to heroin. While issues like cocaine and opioid addiction are on the rise, the fastest-growing drug problem in the country is the abuse of prescription drugs. Worse still, it has had a huge impact on America’s teens.
How bad is America’s prescription drug problem?
Prescription drug misuse is a major problem across the United States with a reported 16.1 million people aged 12 and over report misuse of at least one prescription drug over the past 12 months.
However, a closer look at some of the stats relating to teenagers highlights how prescription drugs have become an even greater cause for concern. Some of the key findings include;
- 4.4% of 12th graders have misused prescription drugs in the last year.
- 3% of 8th graders have misused amphetamines in the last year.
- 1.8% of 12th graders have misused sedatives in the last year.
Meanwhile, close to 35,000 reported deaths in 2020 were attributed to prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, or antidepressants. At Grand Falls Recovery, prescription drug addiction is now one of the most common types of substance use disorder that we see.
Why are prescription drug addictions on the rise?
Around 66% of American adults take prescription drugs for at least one condition. However, prescription drug misuse can be defined as any example of taking them when they aren’t needed. This can often create a growing dependence on prescription drugs.
Prescription drug addiction is a very serious issue, not least because it is very easy to fall into a problematic situation. Many different factors contribute to the rising figures, including but not limited to;
- Accessibility – people may continue to seek repeat prescriptions even when the health issue that they were originally prescribed for has passed. Meanwhile, individuals can use over-the-counter products and online purchases to exceed the dosage that their doctor would prescribe.
- Perceptions – anyone who abuses substances can take prescription drugs in public without worrying about what others think, Likewise, it is far easier for them to dismiss a problematic relationship with prescription drugs than an abusive relationship with cocaine or heroin.
- Affordability – funding a cocaine or alcohol addiction is expensive. Prescription drugs are far more affordable to source. When added to the fact that you won’t be at risk of legal repercussions for taking a prescription tablet adds another layer of convenience for users.
America is a country of legitimate prescription drug users, but it is also very easy for them to develop problematic relationships with their medications. If you suspect that a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs, finding an appropriate treatment should be at the top of your agenda.
How bad can prescription drug addiction get?
Many people wrongly assume that prescription drugs are unharmful as they are designed to help patients beat genuine illnesses and conditions. However, prescription drugs still change the body and brain, which can cause a range of short and long-term problems.
Prescription stimulants can raise a person’s body temperature and heart rate while also affecting the brain to cause paranoia. Conversely, depressants can cause fatigue and shallow breathing. In some cases, this will lead to slurred speech, poor coordination, and a risk of seizures. Prescription opioids can cause slowed breathing, drowsiness, nausea, and a host of other side effects.
All of the above issues may be developed after short-term use, especially if large quantities are taken. However, frequent exposure to prescription drugs can cause a host of additional problems, which will vary from one type of medication to another. This may be accompanied by personality changes as the individual becomes withdrawn from other aspects of their life and becomes interested solely in using the substance.
The Grand Falls Recovery team understands all forms of drug addiction, as well as the circumstances that can lead a person to become addicted to prescription drugs. In turn, this enables us to form an accurate diagnosis and complete a dedicated treatment plan that focuses on the addiction and any co-occurring mental health conditions. A range of therapies and counseling can be used alongside detoxification and other coping tactics to unlock the best results.
Prescription drug addiction and abuse are dangerous but with the right treatment, it is possible to break free from their control for teenagers and adults alike.