Common Misconceptions About Prescription Drug Abuse


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Learn the common myths and facts surrounding prescription drug abuse to rude the risk of dependence, overdose, and death.

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Common Misconceptions About Prescription Drug Abuse

  1. 1. Common Misconceptions about Prescription Drug AbuseDoctors prescribed enough painkillers in 2010 to medicate every man, woman, and child in theUnited States around the clock for one month. Unfortunately, the only thing more abundant inthe U.S. than prescription drugs is the number of misconceptions surrounding them. Rampantdrug abuse and misinformation are a dangerous combination, especially in the realm ofprescription medicine.A prescription is good forever and for everythingMyth: Once a doctor writes a prescription, the patient can use the medication whenever andhowever she chooses, including recreational purposes or to treat another condition.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, says that more than 12 million peoplein the United States used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in 2010. Using a drug non-medically means to take it to get high or to treat a different condition than the one the doctor hadintended when she wrote the prescription.Fact: A patient should dispose of unused portions of all prescription medications when she nolonger needs it. Using a drug for non-medical reasons increases the risk for side effects,adverse reactions, physical dependence, overdose, and death.Only criminals need drug treatmentMyth: Someone can only develop a drug habit after using an illegal drug, like cocaine or heroinFact: Anyone can become physically dependent and require rehab treatment. For example, apatient can become physically dependent on painkillers after using prescription drugs asprescribed by his physician to treat a chronic illness, like arthritis, or after a traumatic injury.According to results from a 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1.9 millionAmericans are dependent on prescription painkillers including oxymorphone. This number hasgrown slightly since 2004, when there were 1.4 million opioid-dependent people in the UnitedStates. In contrast, that same survey estimates there are only 398,000 people physicallydependent on heroin.Rehab treatment is necessary for those with physical dependence or addiction to prescriptiondrugs and illicit substances.Sharing prescription drugs is legalMyth: You can share medications with another person as long as you have a prescription.Fact: It is illegal to share a prescription drug with another person, even if he has symptomssimilar to yours or even if he has a prescription for the same drug. Unless you are a registered
  2. 2. pharmacist, you are not legally entitled to dispense prescription medications to anyone otherthan yourself and your children.Everyone does itMyth: Everyone thinks everyone else is doing drugs, building up a false perception thatprescription drug abuse is acceptable and widespread.Fact: According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health sponsored by theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 5.9 percent of surveyrespondents between the ages of 18 and 25 said they had used a prescription drug for non-medical reasons in the previous month.Nothing bad can happenMyth: Many think nothing bad can happen when they use prescription drugs for non-medicalreasonsFact:Each year since 2008, more than 14,800 people in the United States die from overdose ofprescription opioid drugs, such as OxyContin and hydrocodone. In fact, more people in the U.S.die each year from prescription painkiller overdose than from overdose of cocaine and heroincombined.For every overdose death, there are:• 10 admissions to a treatment facility for drug abuse• 32 emergency department visits• 130 people who abuse drugs or become physically dependentDeaths from drug overdoses have tripled since 1990. This increase in deaths resulting fromprescription drug overdose parallels a 300 percent increase in prescription painkiller salesduring that same timeframe.Dispelling myths about prescription drug abuse reduces the risk for adverse effects,dependence, overdose, and death. Rehab treatment centers are excellent resources for druginformation. These health professionals are always willing to clear up common misconceptionsthat could lead someone to drug abuse or dependence.