Popping Pills: Prescription Drug Abuse in America

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Prescription drug abuse has unfortunately become quite the epidemic in the U.S. One of the biggest problems with the trend is that many prescription pill abusers don’t see their actions as abuse and casually refer to it as only “popping pills”. Prescription drugs can be quite useful when used properly as prescribed by doctors but when they are abused, these substances offer very serious consequences in several areas of life, affecting everything from medical and mental health to personal relationships and even legal standing.

Prescription Drug Abuse Reach

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are 52 million people in the U.S. who have used prescription drugs in a non-medical manner. This staggering statistic is a testament to just how far-reaching and out of control prescription drug abuse has gone. In fact, in the last month 6.1 million people have used them in a non-medical manner according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) makes the numbers clear by explaining that the U.S. has only 5% of the population of the world but the U.S. consumes 75% of prescription drugs worldwide. These statistics indicate that the prescription drug abuse problem in America is widespread and very serious.

The Details of Prescription Drug Abuse

Of prescription drugs being abused, painkillers are number one, tranquilizers are the second most abused and stimulants are the third most abused, according to Drugabuse.gov. NSDUH has found that the drugs are obtained in a variety of ways but the most popular sources are actually from a friend or family member!

It can be easy to overlook prescription drug abuse and the ease with which they can be accessed. It’s very important to only take drugs as prescribed, and never to take drugs that aren’t prescribed for you. If you suspect that someone you love is abusing prescription drugs, don’t ignore the situation because it could only get worse.

Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse

One of the biggest problems with growing prescription drug abuse is that people view them differently because they may be legally obtained and regard them differently from street drugs. This widespread belief is apparent in the findings of the University of Texas on teenage prescription drug abuse…

  • 52% abuse them because they are available everywhere.
  • 51% abuse them because they are not illegal drugs.
  • 49% say if they get caught they can just claim to have a prescription.
  • 35% say they believe they are safer than illegal drugs.
  • 33% find less shame associated with abusing prescription drugs than illegal drugs.
  • 32% say they have less side effects than illegal drugs.
  • 21% say that their parents will not care as much if they get caught using prescription drugs rather than illegal drugs.

Prescription drug abuse can happen to anyone at any age. It often happens without the person realizing it; perhaps they start taking higher quantities more frequently, or grow dependent on the drug to function. Remember that specialized treatment for prescription drug abuse can make the difference between addiction and recovery for many people.