Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in the United States for the last two decades. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 12 million people used prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons in 2010 alone. This statistic illustrates how rampant prescription durg abuse has become in America.
Many physicians and medical personnel at pain management clinics have been liberally prescribing painkillers to patients since the 1990s. The highly addictive nature of opiate-based prescription medication has resulted in widespread abuse of these drugs. Many patients who had been using prescription painkillers for medicinal purposes found that they had become physically dependent on the drugs only after their prescriptions expired or when the drugs were no longer available. That led many people to seek out other sources of opiates on the black market or through other illegitimate means.
Prescription durg abuse often escalates to the abuse of more potent drugs more often. Heroin addiction often results when opiate-based prescription drugs become cost-prohibitive or when their availability is limited. When prescription durg abuse reaches a level of physical dependence in the abuser, criminal activity is often resorted to in order to acquire the drugs.
The physical withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate-based prescription drug abuse can be very unpleasant. The most common withdrawal symptoms include body aches, vomiting and anxiety. Immediate relief can be experience only upon ingestion of opiates or through a medically administered detox program at a drug rehab facility.
As drug abusers continue to self-medicate and engage in long-term use of opiates and other prescription drugs, the risk of overdose becomes ever-present. As prescription drug abusers develop a tolerance to the substance that they are exposing their body to, more of the drug is required to achieve the desired effect. The body’s ability to manage increasingly high levels of prescription drugs diminishes and the abuser is exposed to a greater risk of overdose.
For many prescription drug abusers the only way out of this cycle is either death or a structured, supervised drug rehab program. It is very difficult to safely detox from prescription drugs without the assistance of medical professionals. Recognition of drug addiction or dependence is the critical first step for drug abusers to take when seeking a life of sobriety. A lifelong commitment must be made to abstain from the abusive use of prescription drugs and to engage in a lifestyle that is conducive to continued recovery and rehabilitation.