In 2010, a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 22 percent of American college students admitted to using drugs, and that 6 percent of adults of college age engage in the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. This reflects a growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse throughout the country, with 15 million Americans — more than the combined number of people who use cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants — engaged in abuse of some type of pharmaceutical medication. The problem is especially serious on college campuses nationwide, where an overly medicated population of students abuse the drugs both recreationally and as a way to cope with the stress and pressures of academic life. Many start out with legitimate prescriptions but wind up getting hooked. Others begin actively experimenting with their own prescriptions by purposefully exceeding the recommended dosage, while others begin using the drugs after getting them from a friend, whether as a study aid or as a substitute for traditional drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
Today’s college classrooms are filled with students, many of whom are attending class while under the influence of powerfully addictive drugs. They receive a doctor’s prescription for medication to treat conditions such as Xanax for anxiety and panic attacks, Ritalin or Adderall for ADHD, Ambien for sleeplessness and Zoloft, Prozac or Paxil for depression. Some receive a short term prescription for painkillers but get hooked before the bottle runs empty. College students of the current generation have largely been indoctrinated into the idea that the solution for any type of physical or mental discomfort is to pop a pill, an attitude which naturally evolves into reaching for medication as a way to feel good and then to get high.
One of the factors that drives the prevalence of prescription drug abuse is the fact that many students simply do not realize what they are doing. Because the drugs are labeled as medication and are obtained from a doctor rather than a drug dealer, they are perceived as being somehow safer than street drugs. The truth is that many of these medications are listed by the Federal Government in the same categories of dangerous and habit forming drugs as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Prescription Drugs Destroying the Hopes of a Generation
Drugs have been a common aspect of college life for more than half a century since the 1960s, but the rise of prescription drugs represents a new public health threat. In the past, marijuana was the most popular drug among college students. While it has its own dangers, it is not especially addictive, and the symptoms of withdrawal generally include headaches, irritability and temporary sleep disturbances. Prescription drugs are a whole other story. Painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin are synthetic forms of opium, and as such they produce withdrawal symptoms similar to the nightmarish effects of heroin withdrawals. Psychoactive drugs such as antidepressants and tranquilizers are known to cause suicide and psychotic episodes, both among current users and among those attempting to get off the drugs.
Pharmaceutical medication can be astonishingly addictive, especially when abused. We as a nation are facing a possible future with a large percentage of young adults starting off life suffering from a crippling addiction to powerful drugs. For the health of the individual users and for the health of the country, it is of vital importance that we find a solution to this problem before it is too late. Making treatment more widely available is one approach. Another is to restrict access to the drugs through measures such as statewide prescription drug monitoring programs that track the number of prescriptions written by doctors and the number obtained by individuals, to ensure that the drugs are only being used for medically necessary purposes. The most important measure is for individuals to spread the message to their friends and loved ones. Call us now for more information or to find out more about the Narconon program.