Prescription medication nearly tops the list of most commonly abused drugs in the country. Many people do not see the danger of medications prescribed by a doctor, and this false perception is one reason for the United States opioid epidemic.
All prescription drugs come with a likelihood of addiction, leading to a high rate of abuse. Prescription medicine can be categorized as:
Prescription opioids are addictive for many reasons.
The brain contains opioid receptors which are activated every time a person ingests prescription medicine. However, the brain also acclimatizes to the effects of the drug, meaning a larger dose of medication is required to achieve the same outcomes.
As the size, concentration, and frequency of the dose increase, users develop a tolerance to the drug. This tolerance eventually leads to an addiction, especially in an effort to curb withdrawal symptoms that arise when the drug is not administered.
Prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in the past few years leading to a CDC-designated opioid epidemic.
Increased manufacturing and distribution of prescription pills has created a high demand for these substances. Unethical physicians are responsible for improper diagnosis and haphazard prescribing.
Patients assume some responsibility for the epidemic as well. Users who become addicted to prescription opiates resort make desperate attempts to obtain these drugs from multiple sources at once, like "pill-milling" and doctor shopping.
Diversion of medication is another reason for the increase in prescription drug abuse. This happens when the intended user does not properly dispose of extra pills, presenting family members with the opportunity to acquire these drugs. It is most definitely illegal to give away excess prescription medication. Instead, local drug takeback incentives encourage the proper disposal of prescription medicine.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, or PDMPs, exist in every state across the country. PDMPs are electronic systems where prescriptions can be tracked and monitored. They prevent people from acquiring medication from different sources by allowing pharmacists to follow the track record of a prescription.
PDMPs offer a platform for people to report diversion to law enforcement officers who also have access to statewide PDMP systems.
Unfortunately, prescription drugs will always be subject to abuse. These drugs are used by people who need them and others who don't, which is why they need to be supervised.