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Prescription Drug Abuse, an Exploratory Approach

Topics: Drug, Drug addiction, Addiction, Morphine, Medical prescription, Illegal drug trade / Pages: 4 (1224 words) / Published: Apr 22nd, 2014
A drug is defined as a substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or introduced to the body and it’s important to understand that drugs, while often helpful, can also be harmful. Prescription drugs are often prescribed to patients to help overcome their ailments but some drugs can become addictive and potentially dangerous. Many people argue that drug abuse would decrease if drugs were decriminalized. These people are often referring to illegal street drugs, yet they fail to consider the problems caused by drugs that are already legal and lawfully distributed. It is also argued that prescription drugs (specifically opioids, depressants, and stimulants) have been on the rise and perhaps even become more problematic than illegal drugs. Not only do these legally distributed drugs get abused, but they also cause health problems and studies show that legal drugs are the cause for more deaths than illegal drugs. (“Prescription Drugs”, National Institute) Prescription drug abuse has become so prevalent and is now classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an epidemic. (“Prescription Drug Abuse”, The White House) Abuse of these drugs can arise in a number of ways. Many people are prescribed medication for a legitimate reason and they become addicted. When this happens, the patient usually tries to continue getting prescribed the medication from their doctor or go looking for other doctors that will continue to prescribe the drug. If unsuccessful, they’ll look elsewhere to find the drug and often times this means purchasing illegally on the street or over the internet. This problem occurs in all age groups. Even if the patient doesn’t become addicted, there’s a chance that they will enjoy the affects the drugs have and will continue to want to use them.
Those who argue that legal prescription drugs are a bigger problem than illegal drugs are often referring to the health problems and dangers caused by the prescribed drugs. Prescribed drugs tend to be abused by a larger variety of people because the stigma isn’t as strong as with illegal drugs. Because they are prescribed by healthcare professionals, they are perceived as safer than illegal drugs. This perception, along with the ease of access, often leads to dependence. Prescription drugs are prescribed for a wide range of medical issues and left over prescriptions are often easily found in medicine cabinets. These factors allow people to abuse these drugs which can cause both physical and mental health problems. Along with health problems, some other problems that arise from prescription drug abuse include: stealing or forging prescriptions to maintain one’s addiction, accidents due to sedation or impaired judgment, poor academic or workplace performance, antisocial behavior which can affect relationships with friends and family, and also legal trouble. ("The Dangers of Misused Prescription Drugs”)
There are others that disagree with the above argument and claim that prescription drugs are not more dangerous than illegal street drugs. Illegal street drugs tend to be far more dangerous than prescription drugs for several reasons. First, the health risks mentioned above are also affiliated with illegal drugs. Heroin is an opioid and has the same, if not greater, depressant side-effects that prescription opioids contain. Methamphetamine and cocaine are both stimulants that can lead to hypertension stroke, and possibly heart attack. Potency of street drugs varies greatly and it’s not uncommon to get more than you asked for. Violence associated with illegal street crimes tends to be far greater than that caused from prescription drugs. Gangs are often affiliated with drug and gun trafficking which leads to violence and death.
There are many people that argue both for and against the idea that legal drugs are more problematic than illegal drugs, but there are also those that stand in the middle of the argument. These people realize that prescription drugs do inevitably cause problems but they also provide invaluable benefits to those that use them properly. Prescriptions drugs are meant to help people with medical problems. These patients that use their prescriptions appropriately far outweigh the number of people that abuse. Unfortunately, people also abuse these drugs for recreational purposes. This is an unavoidable consequence of prescribing drugs.
I’ve had friends that abused both illegal and legal drugs. In high school, I had friends that smoked marijuana and not only did it create a financial burden on them but it affected relationships. Later, one of my closest friends got addicted to methamphetamines and it affected his life in a very negative way. To maintain his addiction he would often steal from his friends and family. Another friend of mine started doing prescription pills (mostly opiates with occasional barbiturate use). One night, while high on oxy and xanax, he crashed his car into a telephone pole. Fortunately he wasn’t going to fast and he wasn’t injured but the next morning when he woke up, he had no idea what happened. Eventually he switched to heroin because it was cheaper than oxy.
Prescription drug abuse is obviously a problem. There are many other things that have benefits that will inevitably also have a negative impact on the world. In my opinion, prescription drugs provide a huge benefit and the abuse that comes along with these drugs really isn’t negative enough to outweigh the benefit. I’m taking a middle ground stance on this matter. I believe that all things have consequences and some of them are necessary. Abused prescription drugs so affect people’s lives in a negative way but the benefits they bring to countless others is invaluable.
Word Count: 900

Cave, Damien. "Legal Drugs Kill Far More Than Illegal, Florida Says." The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 June 2008. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
This article in the New York Times discusses the prevalence of Prescription drug use and the numbers of deaths due to overdose compared to illicit drugs. It also discusses the methods used to acquire prescription drugs. Also described is a plan put into place that pays patients for their unused drugs to prevent misuse or sale to other abusers.
"The Dangers of Misused Prescription Drugs - ULifeline." The Dangers of Misused Prescription Drugs - ULifeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
This page discusses all the health problems associated with prescription drug use.
"Prescription Drug Abuse." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
This website has a lot of general information about how prevalent prescription drug use has become and also talks about prescription drug abuse prevention. It has some research information on the numbers of users along with treatment information and other useful resources.
"Prescription Drugs." National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
This article describes the different categories of prescription drugs that are abused and lists out all the specific drugs within the categories. It also lists the percentages and age groups of kids that try prescription drugs.
"Statistics of Prescription Drug Abuse, Overdosing, Emergency Room Visits: Foundation for a Drug Free World." Statistics of Prescription Drug Abuse, Overdosing, Emergency Room Visits: Foundation for a Drug Free World. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
This article also discusses the overdose rates of prescription drugs compared to illegal drugs. It lists the numbers of people that try prescription drugs for the first time along with the age that kids usually try drugs.

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