Prescription Drug Abuse: It is Really a Problem?


The development of a new pharmaceutical drug brings the hope and promise that lives will be made better, and that for some an end to their suffering is possible. The prevalence of prescription drug abuse is on a steady rise.

The most common medications abused are opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants. It is estimated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that as many 20 million have used some type of prescription medication for non-medical purposes at some time in their lives.

Medication abuse is defined as the use of a prescription or OTC medication in any way that deviates from the instructions given by the doctor, or printed on the label, or using another person’s prescribed medication.

Is the answer to stop the production and prescribing of these addictive substances?

These medications do have an important place in the treatment of many conditions, and they are recognized as potentially addictive which is why they are scheduled drugs that require a prescription and physician monitoring.

Many of those abusing prescription medications go from doctor to doctor to get their prescriptions filled. The responsibility of identifying someone with a potential problem needs to include nurses and pharmacists.

Thus it is crucial that nurses and pharmacists work closely with physicians and communicate any concerns or suspicions of abuse. All medical professionals need to know what the signs and symptoms are of someone who is abusing medications.

Perhaps more parameters need to be in place regarding who can prescribe these medications that we now know are being abused. Some sort of check and balance system that can red flag those who are doctor shopping.

Until then the best thing that physicians can do is educate themselves about abuse of these drugs, and prescribe them when all other avenues of treatment have been exhausted

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