Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in the United States especially among the youth of our country. The Partnership for a Drug Free America says that 2,500 teens a day abuse prescription drugs. Abuse of these narcotics can lead to serious mental and physical consequences. Why is this such a problem, what can we do to solve it, and how is it affecting our social lives?
First we must explore what prescription drugs are being abused. The most popular abused drugs fall into three categories. Depressants of the central nervous system typically used to anxiety or sleep disorders. Stimulant used to treat such disorders as ADHD and ADD and the most commonly abused are opiates used to treat pain. Opiates attach to receptors in the brain to block pain when abused they create euphoric feeling. When taken properly they are used to treat many different types of pain including pain in teeth, skeletal system, skin, internal organs of the body. When used in high doses opiates can also relieve pain cause with certain types of cancer. The most commonly abused opiates are Hydrocodone, Oxycotin, Fentanyl, and Morphine. These substances are taken snorted, smoked and sometimes even injected to give a high close to heroine. Heroine is made from the opiate plant so these pain killers are basically synthetic heroine. Fentanyl happens to be 600 times more powerful then heroine. By the end of the 19th century nearly one million Americans were addicted to opiates (Drugs and Society p.250). In 1914 when the Harrison Narcotic Act was passed the average opiate addict was a middle age, southern, white woman who functioned well and was adjusted to her role as a wife and a mother. She bought Opium or Morphine legally by mail order from Sears and Roebuck or at the local store, used it orally and caused very few problems. A number of physicians were addicted as well. One of the best known Morphine addicts was William Holsted a founder of the John Hopkins Medical School (drugs and society p254- 255). Continues use of the drugs can lead to high tolerance and addiction. One of the worst physical side effects of opiate addiction has to be withdrawals. After extended use of the opiates your body becomes physically dependant on the drugs and stopping the use of the drug or not taking anything leads to physical withdrawals symptoms include sweats, painful stomach cramps associated with diarrhea, nausea, insomnia, headaches, muscle aches, flu like symptoms, runny nose, restlessness and sometimes seizures. Most of these symptoms are not deadly but make the person extremely uncomfortable. This is what makes people want to pick up and use again.
Abuse of prescription drugs can help a person feel as they are escaping from reality. Problems in your social, work or love life, stress and loneliness can lead to self medicating for therapeutic reasons. This addiction does not single anyone out everyone can be at risk for this. Many of the people I know who are addicted to opiates were prescribed them and became addicted. When the prescriptions were no longer getting filled these people began buying the drugs on the street and eventually because of the high price of the pills unfortunately they then look to heroine for a cheaper, similar high. It is rather unfortunate that I have such a close experience with this as I was once highly addicted my self. I saw my life begin to spiral downward before mine and my family’s eyes. It started with a serious surgery that an ex boyfriend had. I had Experimenting with drugs in high school as many of us have. When he asked if I wanted some of his pain meds I thought why not? I figured it was like smoking weed or drinking how wrong I had been. I loved how careless I felt and how nothing seemed to matter when I was on these drugs. My addiction began slowly short on money but still working and functioning. I stopped showing up for work because I was either to messed up too go or could not get a fix and would be sick....
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