The Scope of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug misuse has become a major public health threat over the course of the past two decades. This is largely due to the over-prescribing of habit-forming prescription opioids, stimulants and central nervous system depressants – however, the accessibility of addictive medications also contributes to high abuse rates. Most individuals who begin abusing prescription medications initially take them from the medicine cabinets of close friends and family members. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the year 2017 alone an estimated 18 million Americans over the age of 12 had misused a prescription within the past year. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in the year 2017, 2 million Americans abused a prescription painkiller for the first time. During the same year roughly 1.5 million Americans abused a prescription tranquilizer, 1 million abused a prescription stimulant and 271,000 abused a prescription sedative for the very first time.
When it comes to prescription drug misuse, the demographic that most frequently engages in misuse is young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. However, it is important to note that older adults also misuse prescriptions fairly frequently. Among those aged 18 to 25, 14.4 percent reported nonmedical use of a prescription within the past year and 4.9 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds reported nonmedical use. Roughly 60 percent of the adolescents who were surveyed reported that they received the drugs from a friend or a relative or purchased the drugs from a friend or a classmate.
It is estimated that at least 80 percent of all adults between the ages of 57 to 85 have been prescribed at least one potentially habit-forming medication that they take on a daily basis. Around 50 percent of this specific demographic takes five or more prescriptions and supplements every single day. There are many factors at play that make older adults more susceptible to prescription drug misuse, including chronic pain, age-related metabolism changes and memory loss (for example, an older adult might not remember taking a medication earlier in the day and accidentally take it twice). Regardless of your age and your prescription drug of choice, if you have been abusing a medication for any length of time it is absolutely crucial that you seek professional medical care as quickly as possible.