Prescription Drug Abuse - A Dangerous Trend

February 4, 2013 Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

The abuse of prescription painkillers in the United States has reached epic proportions. In 2008 drug overdose rates have more than tripled since 1990. More than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers non-medically in 2010, that is, using them without a prescription or for the feeling they cause.

The 3 Categories of Prescription Painkillers

Basically, there are three categories of prescription drugs that have contributed to this epidemic:

Opioids – used for pain relief including hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), fentanyl (Duragesic, Fentora), methadone, and codeine.

Benzodiazepines – sedatives used to induce sleep, prevent seizures, and relieve anxiety – Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.

Amphetamines – stimulants used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Adderal, Ritalin, and Concerta.

More than three out of four people who misuse prescription painkillers use drugs prescribed to someone else. Those most at risk include individuals who obtain multiple prescriptions from different prescribers, people who take high dosages of prescription painkillers, low-income people and those living in rural areas and people living with mental illness or who have a history of substance abuse.

What's Being Done?

So what is being done to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse? Prescription monitoring programs were first created in 1990 and today 48 states and one territory have some kind of system in place to track the distribution of prescription drugs (Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs).

In New York State, the Michael David Israel Laws, named after the young man who completed suicide after becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, has become a prime mover in bringing about changes in how these drugs are dispensed along with providing training for doctors. In addition, these laws include a Patient Information Act, Addiction Transition Law, and a Controlled Substance Registry Reform Act.

It’s my personal belief that we need to do more to educate about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Also, on a personal level, we all need to ensure that these drugs are not able to be accessed in our homes by our children. As long as people have easy access to these medications we will continue to see these problems continue. Hopefully, through the utilization of prescription monitoring and associated programs we can reverse this dangerous trend.

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2013, February 4). Prescription Drug Abuse - A Dangerous Trend, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

Dr Musli Ferati
February, 17 2013 at 8:35 pm

The corrupt elements of drugs prescription incited me to comment this purposeful article. Beside the above mention causes of prescription dug abuses, there is dishonest intention to get abundant profits from drugs market managers and their co-operators as well. This sinister phenomenon on pharmaceutic trade business indicate the main motive to drug abuse tendency as dangerous medico-social pathology. Against numerous approbation of monitoring programs , the ruinous trend of drug abuse is going to rise. On the other hand, the compulsion to take drugs, particularly psychotropics and others painkillers drugs goes hand in hand with trade market corruption. These and many others factors on drug prescription require a substantial and wide-awake revision on this direction

February, 11 2013 at 4:56 pm

Great topic Karly. It's big problem. My neighbor of 18-years, an aspiring ball player was addicted to OxyContin; a prescription drug/pain killer that he was on for a ball injury & sells on the streets for $50 a pill. This young 20-year old ended up robbing my house repeatedly over a 4-month period of time stealing everything from Ipods, to small increments of money, jewelery, piggy banks filled w/ changed from my kids rooms and more. He finally got caught after we trapped him w/ a motion sensor camera. He was arrested & is paying us back (over $10,000) BUT his dream of being a pro ball player is over, he has a felony record, orders of protection against him & is largely responsible for me & my daughter moving out of the house I lived in for 19yrs. It ruined his life and did lots of damage to many others.

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