Is Prescription Drug Abuse Still an Epidemic?
Despite the inherent dangers of taking others’ prescription drugs, people continue to take them perpetuating an epidemic of prescription drug abuse. According to a 2013 article from the Christian Science Monitor, more people in the United States are dying from prescription drugs like clonazepam than from heroin and cocaine abuse combined. Men age 25-54 are most likely to abuse prescriptions, but rates among female addicts are accelerating. Since 1999 overdose deaths have increased 400 percent among women compared to 265 percent among men. In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control reported that since 1990, drug overdose rates in the United States have more than tripled, and most of those deaths resulted from misusing prescription drugs like clonazepam. The CDC also reported that more than 12 million people reported taking prescription painkillers non-medically in 2010, which means they used the drugs without a prescription solely for the positive feelings they produce.
Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic not only for adults but for young people as well. According to a 2012 report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most-abused drug among high school seniors, but prescription and over-the-counter medicines are the second-most commonly abused drugs. The report also indicated that about one in nine people age 12-25 had misused prescription drugs within the past year. Unfortunately 25 percent of teens that begin using prescription drugs at age 13 or young will meet the clinical criteria for an addiction sometime in their lives.
What Prescriptions Are Abuse Most?
The most commonly abused prescriptions fall into three categories: opioid pain relievers, depressants (like clonazepam) and stimulants. Other drugs may also be abused but not in the startling numbers of the three major categories. Information about these prescriptions includes the following:
- Opioid pain relievers – According to PBS, about 5.1 million people abuse prescription pain relievers out of the seven million people in the U.S. who abuse prescription drugs overall. This is by far the most frequently abused drug. Drugs in this category include Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin along with their generic versions. They abused because of the pain relief they offer as well as the feeling of euphoria they produce.
- Depressants – According to PBS, about 2.6 million people abuse prescription depressants used to treat anxiety and/or insomnia. Commonly abused depressants include Xanax, Valium, clonazepam and their generics. These drugs relieve anxiety, lower a person’s inhibitions and create feelings of well-being, which is why they are abused.
- Stimulants – These are the third-most abused prescription drugs, with a little over one million people abusing them in a given year according to PBS. The two most well-known drugs in this category are Adderall and Ritalin although their generic versions are just as likely to be abused. When used non-medically, they increase alertness and energy, which makes them popular among students who need an extra boost when studying or working all night.
The majority of people (55 percent) who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or relatives for free according to the CDC. Prescriptions from doctors are the second-most common source. In addition many addicts will purchase prescription drugs from friends, relatives or anonymous dealers. They may also be stolen even from family or friends.
How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
While doctors and pharmacists can play an active role in preventing prescription drug abuse to drugs like clonazepam, they cannot tackle this problem. Every person prescribed drugs must be willing to play his part in making sure he doesn’t get hooked on drugs prescribed to them.
Ways to prevent prescription drug addiction include the following:
- Screen for prescription drug abuse – Doctors can screen for possible abuse and addiction during routine visits. Doctors can also take note of frequent or unscheduled refill requests as these are signs that an addiction is developing.
- Provide information on prescription drugs – Both physicians and pharmacists can take the lead in helping their patients understand the dangers inherent in some prescriptions. They also can watch for false or altered prescriptions as well as multiple prescriptions for similar medications.
- Follow directions carefully – Every person prescribed a drug needs to follow the directions for that medication including the dosage and the frequency of the dosage. Taking drugs in ways not prescribed can lead to tolerance, one of the first phases in a developing addiction. In addition a patient needs to be aware of potential interactions with current medication.
- Keep medication safe – Parents prescribed drugs should keep these medications in a safe place so that children in the home do not have access to them. Children and teens will often raid their parents’ medicine cabinets while the parents are not at home.
- Talk about the dangers of addiction – Parents should not assume that their children know the dangers of prescription drug abuse to drugs like clonazepam. It is important to talk about using and abusing drugs, explaining the short-term and long-term consequences. Parents need to clearly set expectations about refusing to use drugs.
- Dispose of unused medication – This removes temptation from family members and friends as well as people who may visit the home for some reason.
These are just a few of the ways you can help prevent prescription drug abuse. One other important way is intervention. If you suspect a loved one is abusing prescription drugs, take action immediately. Talk to him about the problem. Include other loved ones if necessary. Provide any help you can offer to tackle the addiction.
Getting Help for Your Prescription Drug Addiction
If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs like clonazepam, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions coordinators about the best options for your situation. We can even check your insurance coverage free of charge to see what benefits you can take advantage of. Don’t allow prescription drugs to control your life anymore. Call us today, and start on the path of recovery.