Prescription Drug Abuse Paper

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Marc Boubelik
Engl 102 MWF 3:00pm
Yuan Ding
26 March 2012
Abuse of Prescription Drugs in the U.S.
"Prescription drugs are the number-one drug problem that we face today," says David Rotenberg, executive director of the adolescent treatment center at the nonprofit Caron Foundation. "They are more widely prescribed, more widely available, and more widely abused by adolescents than they have ever been before."(DiConsiglio, 1) Abuse of prescription drugs is one of the fastest growing problems for young adults in the U.S. today. It is a concerning problem because of prescription drug’s widespread availability and little known negative side effects. Prescription drugs are being abused by many young adults and college students. This research paper will focus on the types of drugs abused, where these drugs are coming from and the reasons for abuse, and the dangers of unknown side effects of abuse.

Many different prescription drugs are abused for academic purposes as well as recreational purposes. First let’s take a look at one of the most popular abused drugs, Adderall. Adderall is by definition a prescription stimulant. It is composed of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It is normally prescribed by doctors to patients who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and people who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). To these patients, Adderall has a calming effect with an improvement in focus and can sustain attention for longer periods of time. Adderall comes is classified by two types, instantaneous release (IR) and extended release (XR). The first has a faster onset and is usually multiple doses are taken in a day. Extended is released in time controlled amounts and is usually taken at the beginning of the day. Adderall is cousin to such drugs as speed and methamphetamines. To adolescents without either disorder, the drug has a stimulating effect on the nervous system. It seems to increase focus and alertness in the abuser. “There are no hard statistics on how many college students use Adderall. A University of Wisconsin study put the number at 20 percent. Our informal survey at colleges in this region suggests that some 25 percent of students have used Adderall at least once to study or to party.”(Jaffe/Chip 42) Adderall is a schedule II drug, which defined by the DEA as “a category of drugs considered having a strong potential for abuse or addiction but that have legitimate medical use.” Another commonly abused prescription pill is powerful painkillers, like Oxycodone (OxyCotin) and Vicodin. These types of medications are usually prescribed to patients with injuries of extensive pain or for patients to take post-surgery. “Nearly 15 percent of high school seniors admitted abusing painkillers like OxyContin, according to the 2009 "Monitoring the Future" survey conducted by the University of Michigan.” This is a startling statistic, especially since 24% of high schools students also partake in episodic and binge drinking. What does this mean? Just because these pills can be found around the house, teenagers think that they can’t be that harmful for your body. When taken in large doses painkillers can create a euphoric “high” feeling in the abuser. These painkillers can come in liquid, tablet, capsule, and extended release form. These types of painkillers are derived from opioids, the same stuff that heroin is composed of. Because it shares some of the same properties as heroin, it is very addictive in nature, physically and emotionally. Tolerance develops quickly to these drugs, which leads abusers to chase the same feeling as their first experience, often spiraling into full blown addiction. Now that we’ve covered what types of drugs are commonly abused by young adults and college students, how are these drugs obtained and why would adolescents want to abuse them?

In the mind of a typical U.S. college student, drug abuse is not uncommon. There have been widespread coverage on binge drinking...
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