Is Prescription Drug Abuse Preventable?

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in our society. There are many ways to become addicted to prescription drugs, both intentional and accidental. Sometimes people purposely source these drugs without a prescription with the intention of getting high. Sometimes, people increase the dosage of their prescription painkillers, thinking it will result in less pain. Both acts can lead to prescription drug addiction, which is largely preventable. By following these guidelines, you can help prevent prescription drug abuse, both in yourself and in others.

Reducing the Risk for Prescription Drug Abuse

Adhere to your doctor’s guidelines

Only take your medication precisely as your doctor prescribes. If you increase the dosage or take it more frequently than ordered, you run the risk of prescription drug abuse. Likewise, don’t save any prescriptions for future use. Even if you come down with a similar condition later, you should go back to the doctor for a new prescription rather than self-medicate with an existing one. If you have any questions about your prescription at any time, consult your doctor.

Don’t take a prescription drug without a prescription

Sharing prescription drugs leads to prescription drug abuse and addiction. This often happens innocently, with one friend sharing their medicine with a friend who is showing similar symptoms. Only a doctor should issue these prescriptions, as many medicines carry an allergy risk or might interact with other medications. Individuals may not be aware of all of the potential complications when prescription drugs change hands. Your prescription is for you, not anyone else.

Get rid of unused medication

Leftover prescription drugs shouldn’t be left lying around. Improper disposal of medicine can even contribute to someone else’s drug abuse. Unfortunately, there are instances of people stealing unused drugs out of a trashcan for their own personal use. Many communities have government-sponsored ‘take-back’ programs, which will take in any unused prescription drugs. Your local trash service or police department should be able to give you more information.

Talk to teens

Statistics from the Foundation for a Drug-Free World show that 2,500 youths aged 12-17 abuse prescription drugs for the first time every day. This unnerving statistic shows that we need to talk to our teens about prescription drug abuse. Teens use prescription drugs for various reasons, including to get high, to lose weight, to reduce pain, or stay alert. These teens may not be educated on the true impact of prescription drug abuse, so if you have a teenager in your life, take time to talk with them about it.

Prescription drugs can act as a gateway to illicit substances like cocaine. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that almost 1/3rd of people 12 and over who use drugs for the first time started with non-medical use of a prescription drug. Although prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors, that does not necessarily make them safer. Follow your doctor’s orders, don’t share prescriptions, dispose of medication properly, and talk to your teens in order to do what you can to prevent prescription drug abuse.