Prescription medications are some of the most abused drugs in the nation right now. And, among prescription drugs, opioid-based painkillers, with their highly addictive nature, are abused more than any other category. How did we get to a situation where so many people have fallen prey to prescription opioid addiction and abuse? For many individuals who end up abusing these drugs, they initially began using them due to a doctor’s prescription after an illness, surgery or accident.
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When a patient experiences extreme pain, even their physician suffers from a natural human and professional desire to relieve the suffering of another as soon as possible. In this situation, a physician is quite likely to prescribe pain medication, particularly when other methods of pain relief or more costly, not covered by insurance, or take longer to provide relief. As this dynamic plays out in doctor’s offices and hospitals across the country, the total number of pain medications prescribed keeps growing. The table below illustrates the massive numbers of opioid pain prescriptions legally dispensed by medical professionals in the United States:
The Opioid Prescription Bell Curve
This decline is the direct result of rising concern about the current prescription drug addiction epidemic by physicians, government officials and the general public during this period of time – and the recognition that over-prescription of these medications has helped to fuel this epidemic. States and the Federal government have begun cracking down on “pill mills” that wrote thousands of prescriptions with little or no oversight and individual doctors and hospitals have begun exercising additional restraint in their prescribing patterns of these drugs due to their potential for abuse.
From Legitimate Medical Use to Prescription Opioid Addiction
Opioid painkillers specifically are also highly physically addictive. Even after one or two doses of an opioid drug like Oxycodone, individuals may start to develop addictive tendencies, and they will crave the drug in increasing amounts and feel terrible when they discontinue use for even short periods of time. Opioid prescription drugs also cause users to build up a tolerance, meaning you’ll need higher doses over time to get the same effect. All of these factors lead many individuals to develop a prescription drug addiction after being legitimately prescribed these drugs for treatment of pain from injury or illness.
Prescription Medications and College Substance Abuse
With the stunning rise in opiate addiction, there has also been an alarming increase in drug overdoses that result in deaths across the country. As addicts need to consume increasingly large doses of drugs to achieve the same high (and often turn to illegal and hence less reliable sources for these drugs) – the risk of potentially fatal drug overdoses becomes much more likely. The following graph illustrates the massive increase in opioid overdose deaths from 1999 to 2016:
Painkillers Aren’t the Only Problem
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Get help today by calling the National Addiction Institute right now at 1-844-889-8140.