Substance abuse is one of the greatest concerns of law enforcement. While most public attention and law enforcement dollars have gone to combating illegal drugs like cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamines and heroine, the majority of cases of substance abuse in the US now involve abuse of prescription drugs. An estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. use cocaine. Shockingly, there are as many as 7 million people who are improperly using drugs that are legally prescribed. This shift in drug use patterns has implications for government foreign policy, law enforcement, substance abusers, and the healthcare professionals who help them.
Abuse of Psychotherapeutic Drugs
Psychotherapeutic drugs are prescription medicines that affect how a person feels. They dull the sensation of pain, induce alertness and focus, or make people calm and drowsy so they can fall asleep. When used properly and under a physician’s care they can bring relief and increase a person’s ability to function.
Because these drugs have physically addictive properties, substance abuse and addiction can result. The effectiveness of the drug can lessen over time, causing users to take more and more in order to get the same result. Overdose becomes a serious risk, especially when drugs are combined or used with alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were over 20,000 overdose deaths in 2010 due to prescription drug abuse, compared to approximately 17,000 for all illegal drugs combined.
Opiate painkillers are the number one class of drugs involved in this shift in substance abuse. Oxycodone and Vicodin are two of the most frequently abused of these drugs. Xanax and Atavan are tranquilizers that have also seen alarming increases in inappropriate use in the last decade or so. Stimulants like Ritalin, as well as sedatives, are also being abused more frequently.
Where is Substance Abuse Happening?
While use of cocaine and heroin has always been centered in cities, prescription substance abuse has increased across the country. In fact, rural areas are often more severely affected. Prescription drug abuse cuts across all socioeconomic levels as well as ethnic groups and geographic regions.
The reasons that people are turning to illicit use of prescription drugs are varied. A significant factor is availability. Healthcare professionals are writing more prescriptions. For example, in 1991 there were 75 million prescriptions for opioid drugs and by 2010 the number had risen to 209.5 million.
Most people get the drugs from people they know rather than through the Internet. Prescription substance abuse users report that they abuse these drugs in order to get high, to reduce pain and anxiety, and for improving mental performance and increasing activity level.
It is clear that we’re seeing a shift in the patterns of drug use. If you or someone you love is suffering from prescription drug abuse, please call us today. We have a women’s program designed to treat the unique needs of women suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders. Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and women’s health treatment facility in Florida for women over the age of 18 who suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders.