According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkiller abuse has reached epidemic levels. More than 50 million people have used prescription drugs for a reason other than what they are medically prescribed for at least once in their lifetimes, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If those statistics aren’t alarming enough, figures from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, purport that almost 33 percent of people 12 years of age or older who first used drugs in 2009 started by using a prescription drug for a non-medical reason. There are may ways addicts get prescription drugs. Being aware of these techniques allows you to be vigilant and get your loved one the help they need.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
The most commonly abused prescription medications include stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. Also, central nervous system depressants such as Xanax and Valium, and opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin are common. Sadly, many prescription drugs can be just as addictive as other street drugs, like heroin or cocaine.
Those susceptible to prescription drug abuse include teens and adolescents. Usually, because they look to experiment with drugs or due to peer pressure. Those who have had previous substance addictions (whether alcohol or drugs) and have access to prescription drugs through a healthcare relationship are also susceptible.
Why the rise in abuse of prescription drugs? Largely, it’s because of the widespread availability today. Thus, the ways addicts get prescription drugs are varied and surprising.
5 Common Ways Addicts Get Prescription Drugs
- Family. Because they believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs many teenagers steal prescription medications. Often right out of the family medicine cabinet, parents’ nightstand drawer, or mother’s purse. Also, a grandparent’s pillbox is another source. This is particularly true if the senior has a chronic, long-term medical condition and may not monitor their pill inventory.
- Friends. Often, athletes share prescription painkillers. Those looking to excel in school receive prescription medications, like Adderall or Ritalin, from friends. Another way is through ‘pharm parties,’ where a group of friends gets together to share the prescription drugs they’ve obtained.
- Doctor shopping. This refers to the activity of a patient requesting medical care (and prescriptions) from multiple physicians. This practice usually begins when a person becomes addicted to a certain prescription drug. Once the legitimate medical reason for the medication is concluded, and the primary care physician won’t renew the prescription. Thus, the patient seeks out other doctors. By going to multiple physicians and multiple pharmacies, the excessive use and addiction go unnoticed.
- Pharmacy theft. While not common, some with a strong addiction resort to stealing. Whether it is holding up a pharmacy or breaking into one, the thief is on a mission for a powerful narcotic or painkiller. Pharmacy theft occurs on the opposite side of the counter as well. A pharmacist or pharmacy attendant may be addicts as well and pilfers medications from their employer.
- Internet. In some cases, teenagers and adults are feeding their prescription drugs addiction with a click of a computer mouse or phone call to an online pharmacy, which is frequently located overseas. These illegitimate pharmacies often will sell the medication without a prescription.
Destinations for Teens
Prescription medications provide important medical benefits. They help many people live more pain-free and productive lives and help free them from symptoms of medical conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. Most physicians responsibly prescribe them. Further, the pharmacists who dispense them do so with the best intentions. But prescription drugs’ widespread availability through a number of avenues makes them vulnerable. The ways addicts get prescription drugs may be shocking but there are many more ways to prevent it.