We all know the dangers of teen drug abuse and with the recent surge in pharmaceutical popularity, parents often have to be more concerned about what they have in their own medicine cabinets than with illicit drug use at school or parties. But prescription drug abuse is a danger to people of all ages, not just teens.
According to a 2009 report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are around sixteen million people (teens and adults) in the United States who have abused prescription drugs. Thirteen percent of them are older adults. They make up one-third of total outpatient spending on prescription pain medication.
Think about it. Aside from a heavy injury or dental work, what would send an average kid to the doctor for heavy pain meds like Vicodin or Percocet? Yet how many age-related diseases demand pain management? Osteoporosis, cancer, arthritis, sleep disorders, lung disease, and many other painful conditions require prescription medication.
An Unexpected Addiction
Oftentimes users of prescription medication find themselves dependent before they know it. Trying to stop use brings on symptoms of withdrawal, which mirror that of illness–runny nose, cough, fever, trouble sleeping, tremors, anxiety and depression. Taking the drug again gives them relief. Before they know it, their lives are consumed by a full-blown addiction.
Adults need drug education just as much as teens. Follow prescriptions precisely as instructed and do not continue use longer than advised. If you notice signs of dependence in yourself, get help.
Stopping Prescription Abuse
Another thing that can be done to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place is to properly dispose of your prescriptions so that they don’t get taken and abused. Don’t leave unfinished bottles of medication in places where teens or children can get their hands on it. Brightly-colored pills can look like candy, and even throwing them in the trash can be risky. Many places have prescription drop-offs, where you can safely dispose of prescription medication.
Most teenagers who get addicted to prescription drugs such as Ritalin or OxyContin find them, or are given them, by family members or friends who use them. Peers offer them as relief during stressful times–a glaring reality during those tender years.
However the drugs cannot be taken from a friend or family member if they are disposed of correctly. After finishing a prescription take the drug to your local enforcement drop off station.
Prescription Drug Abuse In The Elderly
Not just teens, but the elderly have also been greatly affected by this problem. Drugs have more of an effect on older bodies due to the fact that their metabolism is slower, so it is harder to break down such substances. It takes a much lower dose to bring on addiction, and a confusion on this can cloud symptoms of addiction.
Not only that, prescription drugs can prove more dangerous to the elderly by increasing the risk of falls and other accidents, which can be fatal in those with osteoporosis and age-related conditions.
Signs of Prescription Drug Dependency
Watch for the following signs of dependence on prescription drugs and get help immediately:
- Increase in usage. Over time, as the body grows tolerant of drugs, it requires larger doses to produce the same effects. Watch for dosage increases or more frequent use.
- Personality changes. The user may find himself experiencing drastic mood swings, deep depression or anxiety, lowered energy levels, and may even have trouble concentrating. He may become withdrawn and may no longer participate in activities he was once interested in.
- Continued use even after the physical condition being treated has been remedied.
- Blackouts and forgetfulness.