Drug abuse is among the most pressing problems facing the United States, and it is one that threatens people across every level of our society. While street drugs including marijuana, cocaine and heroin have traditionally received the greatest amount of attention in discussions of drug abuse and addiction, prescription painkillers, and specifically opioid painkillers, are now one of the most widespread types of drugs being abused in America. While people of all ages are susceptible to getting hooked on these powerfully addictive drugs, a new study has demonstrated that teenagers and young adults are statistically the most common users of painkillers.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, was conducted by analyzing statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health beginning in 1985 and ending in 2009. Specifically, the study examined data on the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, and it demonstrated that people born between the ages of 1980 and 1994 were by far more likely than people of other age groups to engage in painkiller abuse. In fact, people from this age group, who would currently be between the ages of 18 and 32 years old, abused painkillers at a rate that is 40% higher than any other age group, and unlike the case with many drug abuse trends, this was true across all major ethnic groups.
Prescription Painkiller Abuse Statistics
While the results of this study may be shocking, they are not entirely unexpected. Prescription painkiller medications have long been the second most commonly abused drug among teenagers and young adults, following marijuana. There has, in fact, been an increase of approximately one thousand percent in the rate of painkiller abuse among teens since the 1960′s. According to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual number of prescription drug overdoses has more than tripled since 1990, and most of the 36,000 Americans who died from drug overdose in 2008 had taken prescription drugs. Painkillers and other pharmaceutical drugs are becoming popular drugs of abuse in our country for many reasons, including the fact that they may be obtained legally by a patient and that doctors are increasingly turning to medication to treat a patient’s pain. The United States is quickly becoming a medically drugged society, in light of the fact that the CDC states that nearly half of the population takes at least one prescription drug per month and more than one in ten take five or more drugs.
These same reasons can largely account for the high rates of addiction and overdose involving painkiller abuse. Consider, for example, that the notoriously addictive opioid painkiller Vicodin is the most frequently prescribed pharmaceutical drug in the country. Whereas this class of powerful drugs was previously reserved almost exclusively as a way to ease the suffering of cancer patients and those suffering from terminal illness, they are now increasingly being prescribed to patients who complain of chronic back pain and similar ailments. Given that painkillers are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country, it should not be surprising that teens and young adults are turning to them as being most easily available.
While some of the youths who abuse painkillers may buy them from drug dealers–sometimes paying as much as $100 for a single pill–a large percentage of them find these drugs in a far more convenient location: in their parents’ medicine cabinet. When a parent or perhaps a grandparent has been prescribed Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin or another painkiller, he or she will frequently simply place the bottle of pills in the bathroom cabinet without any further thought about securing the drugs against abuse. The child may already be using other drugs, may have heard about painkillers from a friend or may be curious after seeing the drug’s effects on the parent–whatever the reason for starting to take the drugs, the consequences are often tragic.
What You Can Do
According to Narconon Vista Bay if you or a loved one in the household has received a prescription to take painkillers or any other type of drug, there are simple actions you can take to monitor the situation and protect your children from the dangers of addiction and overdose. First, take the time to thoroughly discuss the subject, going over all the possible risks of taking the drugs and the reasons why they should not. Explain why the doctor has recommended that you take the drugs, and make it clear that you plan to stop doing so as soon as possible.
Be prepared to repeat this talk more than once to ensure that you get your point across. Another action you can take is to closely watch the supply of pills in your bottle. Based on how many you need on a daily basis, figure out when your prescription will run out. If you find yourself with an empty bottle before this date, you have reason to suspect that someone–maybe your child–is stealing pills from you. The key to successfully handling the problem is to confront the situation now, before it is too late.