Prescription drug abuse – especially among young people – is rampant given the rise in availability of prescription drugs. [NIDA provides a website on prescription drugs written especially for teens: Facts on Prescription Drugs.]
The following is a guest post by Hyrum Taffer, a freelance writer on drug addiction and recovery issues for DrugRehab.org. Through both personal and family experience, Hyrum has seen the reality of drug addiction. With his experience and love for writing he contributes to a number of communities to uplift those in need. Follow Hyrum on Twitter or on Google+ or email him at email@example.com.
Prescription Drug Abuse – They’re Everywhere! by Hyrum Taffer
Back in my college days I shared a dorm with a well-read, funny, seemingly healthy guy named Joe. At least I thought he was healthy until I saw his medicine cabinet. My first thought was that for inhabiting the bathroom of my new nineteen-year-old roommate, the shelves were incredibly reminiscent of my grandmother’s. It looked to me as if Joe had nearly every prescription available. Of course, he didn’t really. But in the eyes of a brand new, college freshman, I had never seen anything like it. I had heard stories, but now I had experience. The first night in the apartment, my roommates and I sat in the living room nearly all night, trying to learn a life of history in eight hours. By the next morning, I was sure Joe had described almost every disorder and syndrome I had ever heard of — plus several that I had not — and he had dealt with them all. So that explained that cabinet.
Over the next several months, it became a common occurrence to hear joking throughout the apartment about how low we were on grocery money and how easy it would be to supplement our less than impressive budgets with just a few pills from his cabinet. Now, whether Joe ever did that, I don’t know. To be honest, I didn’t want to know. But we would all have been kidding ourselves to pretend it wasn’t true.
Prescription drug abuse rates have skyrocketed in the last decade, particularly among teenagers. This is largely because they are fairly easy to obtain even without a legitimate prescription and people tend to assume that because they aren’t street drugs, they provide a medically safe high. Despite the fact that this assumption is absolutely false, numbers of drug abusers rise every day. Consider these startling statistics posted in a 2012 Salt Lake Tribune article “Combating Prescription Drug Abuse” that states, “Drug overdose deaths among teens aged 15 to 19 are up 91 percent in the past decade. 2009 marked the first year that, overall, more people in the United States died from drug overdoses than from automobile accidents. [And] one person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States.” We cannot afford to ignore the drug abuse epidemic because it is only getting worse. Families and individuals must learn to recognize the signs so that we can more effectively protect our children and ourselves.
As with most drug abuse and addiction, the most common warnings signs include things like neglecting responsibilities, taking uncharacteristic risks while high, getting into trouble with the law and having trouble in relationships. If you notice a sudden shift in a friend or family member that involves any of these warning signs, please get involved. Sometimes it takes a friend to help you realize what’s at risk. Don’t judge and don’t condemn, but get involved. Support them in a change. If you’re concerned about a friend, there are resources available that will help you recognize and identify a wide variety of signs. For more help with this, try helpguide.org for a more comprehensive list of warnings.
Prescription drugs are everywhere. They’re available to nearly everyone. Make sure you’re protecting the people you love and yourself by becoming aware of the prevalence of prescription drug abuse and the dangers associated with it. For me, my first year of college could have quite literally passed by in a drug-induced haze if the first time I was overwhelmed or frustrated with the workload I had simply stepped into the bathroom, but I was raised to be aware of the danger and because of that awareness was never tempted to subject myself to the potential for such harm. Please, make your children, your friends and your family aware. Protect them before it’s too late and they’re staring into a overflowing medicine cabinet with nothing to stop them from experimenting.
Don’t let yourself or someone you love become part of the statistic. It’s just not worth it.