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Prescription Drug Addiction Facts and Statistics

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 1:33PM | Published on Jul 10, 2014 | Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction Facts and Statistics

The number of overdoses from prescription drug abuse has tripled since 1990. The prescription drug addiction pandemic is one that we must fight together. From education of prescription drug addiction facts and statistics to government regulations on medications, this is a massive problem affecting people of all ages. The more we learn about these facts, and the more we understand how to help someone struggling with addiction, the better we’ll be able to tackle this problem. 

What are Prescription Drugs?

Prescription medications are pharmaceutical drugs that require a medical prescription to be dispensed. These cannot be obtained without a prescription and are often available in more potent doses than over-the-counter medications. 

Types of Prescription Drugs 

There are many types of prescription drugs available in the market. However, these are the most commonly abused ones:

  • Opioids — like oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and meperidine (Demerol)
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants — such as phenobarbital (Luminal), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax).
  • Stimulants — including methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall).
Prescription Drug Addiction Facts

5 Interesting Prescription Drug Addiction Facts You Should Know

Over the past decade, the eyes of the world are paying close attention to the prescription drug addiction epidemic. Everyone knows about the prescription opioids epidemic in the United States. Despite efforts from governments and the department of health, the numbers for prescription medications addictions continue to rise. These prescription drug facts are another indicator that this is a nation-wide problem we must tackle together. 

1. Prescription Drug Addiction Is Prevalent Among Young Adults

People between 18 and 25 years old are among the most significant groups struggling with prescription drug misuse. Not only is it easy for them to receive a prescription from a doctor for things like chronic pain or attention deficit. But, they’re also among those with better chances of stealing these drugs from friends and family members. Young adults can quickly grab a pill or two from their parent’s cabinet and without noticing start walking the path towards addiction. Most parents don’t even realize their children are abusing drugs until it’s developed.

2. Most People Develop a Dependency Quickly

The problem with most prescription medications is that they contain compounds that have a high potential for abuse. Once people start experiencing enhanced feelings from taking these drugs, their bodies develop a physical tolerance. When this happens, they recur to larger doses to meet their body’s dependency.

For some prescription medication, this process can happen in as little as two weeks. The way they affect the brain is almost instant. Eventually, people develop an addiction without even realizing it. 

3. Many Prescription Drugs Are Available on the Streets

Of course, most prescription medications find their ways to the streets. Drug dealers often have multiple prescriptions to get access to many medicines. Then, sell these on the streets without a doctor’s order.

However, these drugs sold on the streets can be dangerous. Most of the time, drug dealers will combine them with other substances to add volume or enhance people’s experiences. These types of medications can cause severe adverse reactions that could be hazardous to someone’s health.  

4. Withdrawal Symptoms Can Be Life-Threatening

When someone becomes a prescription drug addict, they might recognize the signs once it starts affecting their personal, professional, and financial lives. When this happens, people will try to quit their addiction on their own. Prescription medications can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and side effects that can be life-threatening.

People can experience vomiting, nausea, and other physical symptoms, like chills and fever. However, they can also experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and paranoia. 

5. Most Prescription Drug Addicts Struggle with Co-Occurring Disorders

Once someone starts abusing prescription drugs, they’re likely to move on to other medications, even illegal drugs. These individuals will do anything to experience a more intense high. Mixing prescription drugs with other substances like alcohol and marijuana is a common practice that addicts turn to for enhancing their high. 

Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics

Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics

When it comes to prescription drug addiction statistics, it seems they never stop rising. With more and more people getting access to prescriptions, addiction continues to be on the rise. Being aware of these numbers is key to understanding the problem better. 

  • In 2017, an estimated 18 million people acknowledged misusing prescription medications in the past year.
  • Around 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers for the first time in 2017, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Close to 14.4% of young adults (ages 18-25) report nonmedical use in the past year.
  • About 6%of high school seniors reported past-year nonmedical use of the prescription stimulant Adderall® in 2017
  • Almost 60% of the adolescents and young adults surveyed said they either bought or received the drugs from a friend or relative.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Options

Addiction to prescription drugs is possible and very common. However, once people become addicts, cutting these drugs, cold-turkey can be life-threatening, so most people start with a partial hospitalization program (PHP), in conjunction with detox programs to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. 

It’s paramount to speak with an addiction treatment specialist to determine the best way to start seeking help for addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug addiction recovery programs include:

  • Medical Detox: In this clinically supervised detox process at treatment centers, we ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and using medication-assisted treatment services to guarantee a complete detoxification process. 
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Since many long-term addicts often struggle with mental health disorders, a dual diagnosis program can get them the help needed to treat both conditions simultaneously. 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Most of the time, these sorts of addictions develop due to compulsive behaviors that must be treated at the source, with CBT being one of the most popular evidence-based treatments to treat addiction. 
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs: When patients are looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that still gives people access to the help they need. 
  • Long-term Recovery Programs: With long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety. Recovery programs are crucial to relapse prevention. 

Get Help Today

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, seek help immediately. Call Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction center specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs.

Our philosophy revolves around treating each patient on a case-by-case scenario because we know no two addiction stories are alike. Start walking towards your recovery, and we’ll be here supporting you and your family every step of the way. Please don’t wait another day to start addiction treatment–your life depends on it. 

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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