There are more prescription medications out among the population than ever before. For those suffering with acute conditions or chronic ailments these drugs are a blessing. However, the large amount of medications in American drugstores and sitting on the shelves of American medicine cabinets is also behind the wave of prescription drug abuse in this country. So who really is at risk for abusing these kinds of drugs?
According to agencies like the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other watchdog organizations, abuse is up among senior citizens, women and adolescents. That is a pretty comprehensive swath of the country. NIDA reports that in 2010, seven million Americans used prescription medications for non-medical purposes. The fact that three million of those non-prescribed users were women suggests that moms, wives, sisters and girlfriends are caught up in the wave of prescription drug abuse.
Who Is Prescribed Medications Most Often?
Part of the reason that women are at high risk for prescription drug abuse lies in the fact that women are more apt to receive a prescription in the first place. Women are two to three times more often prescribed medications – particularly tranquilizing drugs.
The elderly seem to be at risk for things such as the abuse of prescription drugs by virtue of the fact that they take more prescription drugs than any other population group. Older bodies are vulnerable to injury and illness. Seniors have more drugs in the house so it is easier to take too many of them. If one pain pill helps, then two will help more; right? It must also be admitted that some seniors forget when they last took their medication and may inadvertently overuse their prescriptions. Overuse leads to addiction.
Prescription Drug Experimentation
Adolescents are the last at-risk group. While smoking and drinking is down among youth, experimenting with prescription and over-the-counter drugs has risen sharply. Kids usually think the drugs are safer than street drugs and they are definitely more accessible. Teens use some of the drugs to feel good (usually painkillers) but they are also abusing stimulants to help them study better. Misusing any medication or drug puts a person at risk for developing an addiction.
Most Abused Types Of Prescriptions
The most often abused prescription drugs are painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety medications and stimulants. Medications that are prescribed to deal with a medical condition should be taken with great care. Many have fallen into unwitting addiction because they needed drugs to treat a medical or emotional issue, but overuse turned into abuse.
Additional Prescription Drug Abuse Risk Factors
Other risk factors for prescription drug abuse include an addiction history in the family, depression, obesity, low self-esteem, poverty and alcohol abuse. Women, teens and seniors are the most at risk, but the breadth of those risk populations demonstrates just how easy it is for anyone to become addicted to prescription drugs.