Understanding Psychiatric Drug Abuse
Although it’s dangerous to take a prescription medication without a prescription, abusing such medications is the fastest growing type of drug abuse in the United States, outpacing marijuana abuse by a factor of two, according to some studies.
A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found the number of teenagers who admit to abusing prescription medications tripled from 1992 to 2003, while in the general population such abuse had doubled.
What’s going on?
Several factors that have arisen in the last decade or so have made the type of prescription drugs people abuse very easy to get. The fact is, anyone with or without a credit card can purchase just about any drug on the Internet without age verification.
In addition, on many high school and college campuses, the drugs are sold, given away, or traded by people with prescriptions, or students acquire them from college campus health centers by faking a need for them.
People who take prescription drugs without their doctors’ approval face many risks:
They don’t have information about dosage, side effects, or other risks of use.
The medication may interact with another drug they take.
Taking the medication or stimulant may be dangerous because of a condition they have, such as asthma or heart disease.
Many of the abused drugs, including painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin, are potentially addictive.
There’s no guarantee drugs purchased on the Internet are pure, of the stated strength, or manufactured with any quality control.
Users, especially teenagers and college students, may not realize the dangers of abusing painkillers and drugs for mental illness. For instance, a student who will take OxyContin or Ritalin may never take a street drug, such as cocaine or heroin.
Because of the dangers involved, parents should talk with their children about this type of drug abuse, just as they do about alcohol, marijuana, and club drugs.
They also should pay attention to their children’s moods and behaviors. Symptoms to be aware of include chronic insomnia, daytime drowsiness, paranoia, high anxiety, or panic attacks, all of which can be caused by abusing prescription drugs.