Prescription drug abuse remains an ongoing problem yet still remains widely misunderstood. Many who suffer from addiction often take extreme measures that violate the law. The quandary is that essentially punishing them for a problem they cannot control does little to counteract the addiction.
Abuse of prescribed medication was not even a part of the national drug abuse and addiction studies until the dawning of the 21st century. From 2002 to 2012, nearly 2.8 million Americans aged 12 and older admitted to abusing prescriptions for the first time each year.
A lengthy history
The problem actually goes back thousands of years. Psychotherapeutic drugs came of age in the 1950s. Valium was one of the early offerings, eventually ranking as one of the most prescribed medications since its launch in 1963.
Young adults representing the most users and abusers is troubling enough. Studies reveal that elderly patients are at an increased risk of misuse that leads to addiction.
Specific statistics are alarming and reveal the following:
- Sixteen million-plus people misuse prescriptions in a year, with 23 percent misusing for the first time
- Nearly 46 percent of American adults used prescription drugs – both legal and illegal
- Six percent of United States residents over the age of twelve abuse their prescriptions in a year; of those, 12 percent are suffering from addiction.
- Nearly 44 percent of first-time abusers use painkillers, with 32.1 percent using sedatives or tranquilizers
Four out of five prescriptions filled at pharmacies are opioids. Signs and symptoms of opioid abuse range from confusion to nausea. Users also suffer from poor coordination, confusion, drowsiness, slowed breathing, and euphoria.
An arrest for possession of illegal prescription drugs carries serious consequences. Help from an attorney can provide options to avoid criminal consequences and get the help addicts need.