Think prescription drugs are safer than street drugs? Think again. Prescription drugs are every bit as addictive as street drugs; that’s why they require a medical prescription to use. Prescription drug abuse is the first step on the road to prescription drug addiction. If you abuse prescription drugs, the time to seek help is now.
Prescription Drug Abuse vs. Prescription Drug Addiction
Though Internet sites and your friends might use drug addiction and drug abuse interchangeably, there’s actually a key difference. Abuse is the misuse of prescription drugs, while addiction denotes a chemical dependency that forces you to keep using—even if you don’t want to.
All prescription drug addicts abuse prescription drugs, but not all prescription drug abusers are addicts. For most addicts, abuse is the first stop on the road to addiction.
Some characteristics of prescription drug abuse include:
- Doctor-shopping to get multiple prescriptions for the same drug.
- Lying about or faking medical symptoms to get prescription drugs.
- Exaggerating your symptoms or illness.
- Using someone else’s prescription drugs,
- Faking a child’s illness so you can use his or her drugs.
- Taking prescription drugs even after you feel better.
- Taking prescription drugs more frequently, or in larger quantities than that recommended by your doctor.
- Taking prescription drugs via a mechanism your doctor did not recommend, such as snorting them or injecting them.
- Mixing multiple prescription drugs, or taking prescription drugs alongside alcohol or street drugs.
Prescription Drug Addiction: The Facts
Twenty-four percent of teens report taking a prescription drug without a doctor’s permission, and most mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal or recreational street drugs. Disabuse yourself of this notion now. Instead, consider these sobering facts about prescription drug abuse:
- Prescription drugs kill more people than any other drug except for alcohol.
- Prescription drugs are the second-leading source of drug addiction behind alcohol.
- Teens who abuse prescription drugs are twice as likely to abuse alcohol, and more than 10 times more likely to use street drugs like heroin or cocaine.
- Opioid analgesics such as Hydrocodone kill more than 17,000 people each year—more than any street drug.
- 2009 saw more than 4.5 million prescription drug-related emergency room visits.
- Nine out of 10 poisoning deaths result from prescription drugs.
- Pharmaceutical drug overdoses kill almost 40,000 people each year.
Help for Prescription Drug Abuse
Like other forms of drug addiction, prescription drug abuse warrants immediate medical intervention. The longer you wait to seek help, the more likely it is that you’ll suffer disastrous addiction-related consequences. Every good prescription drug abuse program includes at least the following:
- Psychological care, such as therapy or 12-step programs, to help you establish new coping skills and better understand why you became an addict.
- Treatment for any underlying conditions that causes you to take prescription drugs.
- Detox support.
- Medical care for the long and short-term effects of prescription drug abuse.
You might feel overwhelmed by your addiction now, but rest assured that you can get sober—but only if you’re willing to admit you need help. Toronto Addiction Centre can show you the way.