Prescription Drug Abuse Worldwide

Drug abuse and addiction play no favorites. Whether it’s what we call street drugs - cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana - or prescription drugs, tens of millions of people around the world have given up control of their lives in favor of addiction. In every case, it was not a willing surrender, but an insidious and gradual overwhelm in the form of a pill, a pipe, an injection or a line of powder.

In the last couple of decades, prescription drugs have shown themselves able to subvert as many lives as illicit drugs. Many people start using these drugs legitimately then progress to abuse, and many others start using them recreationally then are not able to quit. The result is the same. Addiction. A condition in which a person’s major focus in life in getting more of the drug he thinks he can’t live without.

Prescription Drug Addicts Need the Same Care as Street Drug Addicts

Just like anyone else who has become addicted to a substance, those who can’t quit abusing prescription drugs need effective drug rehabilitation. The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program offer a chance at a sober future, no matter what substance addicted the person.

The Narconon programs are residential and holistic. That means they address the whole person, the reasons they started using drugs and the damage done by the substance abuse. In a program most people complete in eight to ten weeks, people needing recovery have a new drug-free foundation built and know how to stay sober after they go home.

Addictive Prescription Drugs Commonly Used by Those Who Come to Narconon Centers

The drugs commonly being abused fall into just a few categories.

Most preferred in many parts of the world are the opioid pain relievers:

Prescription Drug Use
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)

There are also central nervous system (CNS) depressants like barbiturates such as Nembutal that are used as sleep aids. Benzodiazepines are also CNS depressants and are used to reduce anxiety or as sleep aids. These frequently-abused drugs include diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan) and alprazolam (Xanax).

Stimulants are used for weight loss or narcolepsy. They are also prescribed for students who have difficulty focusing in class. Instead of having study difficulties handled, these students are given stimulants such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), amphetamine, (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta as its time-release formula).

The United States Leads the Pack for Prescription Drug Abuse Rates

The last several years have seen soaring rates of prescription drug abuse across the US, following by rising numbers of deaths involving prescription drug overdoses. Emergency room visits related to prescription drug abuse now exceed the number of visits related to illicit drug use.

Many abusers perceive prescription drugs to be safer than street drugs since they are prescribed by doctors. They are more available for many people as well, because they may be able to get them from a family member or friend who has a prescription. College students who are prescribed Ritalin or Adderall talk about being mobbed by drug-abusing friends after they get their new supplies of pills.

Since many people add prescription drugs to the illicit drugs they are abusing, overdose deaths may involve both types of drugs.

In the last decade or so, treatment demand for prescription opioids has risen 460% (1998 to 2009) while the treatment demand for heroin addiction treatment has only increased 8%. As doctors prescribe more, there are vastly more drugs in circulation and this leads to more availability, abuse and illicit use.

Prescription Drugs

Currently, the need for prescription drug treatment in the US is second only to need for treatment of cannabis addiction.

As of 2009, 2.2 million people who used drugs for the first time chose pain relievers for their first experience. This is almost as many people as those that chose marijuana as their first drug.

In 2006, the number of people losing their lives to prescription drug abuse had reached its highest number ever, at more than 11,000.

Canada and Mexico both have less of a problem with prescription drug abuse than the US. Canada did have about the same level of prescription opiate abuse as it did heroin abuse in 2009, while Mexico’s prevalence of prescription drug abuse remained low.

Europe, Asia, Australia Also Have Their Share of Prescription Drug Addiction Problems

In Central and South American countries, amphetamine type prescription drugs are frequently abused, and prescription opioids are heavily abused in Costa Rica, Brazil and Chile.

In Europe, Denmark, Finland and Estonia have plenty of opioid painkiller abuse, as does Northern Ireland. Scandinavia has a high treatment demand for sedatives and tranquilizers. Among those receiving treatment in Europe, between 11% and 70% are addicted to benzodiazepines, according to the World Drug Report.

Even in Africa, there are problems with prescription drugs. In Mauritius, abuse of the drug buprenorphine is prevalent - this is a drug used to treat opiate addiction. Madagascar has a treatment demand for tranquilizers that is second only to its demand for cannabis treatment.

Across Asia, barbiturates, sedatives, opioids and tranquilizers are abused. Countries standing out as having greater problems are Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Afghanistan. Stimulants are preferred in Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines. Even in Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait, sedatives and tranquilizers are causing demand for treatment.

Australia has problems with amphetamines and opiates, and its students are abusing tranquilizers, amphetamines and opiates.

Narconon Rehabilitation Centers Offer Hope in All Corners of the World

Wherever there is a Narconon center, there is a way to find lasting recovery from any kind of addiction. When you are seeking recovery for yourself or someone you care about, contact Narconon to find the center closest to you.


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