Prescription drug addiction has come to light as one of the most dangerous and pervasive forms of drug addiction in the nation. In fact, in 2009, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 16 million Americans have engaged in prescription drug abuse, with drugs of choice ranging from analgesics and anxiolytics to stimulants and sedatives.
Prescription drug acquisition tends to preoccupy long-term users’ lives once addiction has set in, causing patients to engage in illegal practices of “doctor shopping” and medical theft. Until drug addiction help has been sought and successfully undergone, many individuals find themselves unable to cease prescription drug abuse on their own.
Reasons for Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug addiction often develops – and worsens – under the radar in many families. Because many addicted individuals begin with legitimate reasons for taking prescription pain medications, anti-anxiety drugs and prescription stimulants, drug use in its early stages appears legitimate – and very well might be at the onset.
However, because many of these prescription medications interact with the brain’s natural chemistry – and due to the naturally developing tolerance that arises from ongoing use – addiction becomes apparent with time. Here are just a few of the ancillary reasons that prescription drug use develops and remains difficult to spot and treat until addiction has taken hold.
- Patients with Difficulty Discerning Addiction
Many patients have difficulty telling whether or not they are addicted to prescription drugs themselves. Because physical dependency tends to exist on a continuum, individuals may experience the desire to take a given medication due to the desire for genuine pain relief, or experience relief when negative psychological sensations such as anxiety or confusion dissipate during prescription drug use. Until patients are professionally assessed for drug addiction, many individuals may not even recognize that they have become psychologically or physically addicted to prescription drugs.
- Inability to Outwardly Assess Medical Conditions
Because the majority of prescription drugs treat psychological or pain-related conditions, outward assessment of their necessity can be difficult, for both loved ones and physicians. Most frequently, only patients themselves can measure their experiences of pain, concentration problems, anxiety issues or muscular issues. As a result, many physicians err on the side of continued prescription, providing continued access to the drug to addicted individuals.
Affordability of Prescription Drugs
Certain prescription drugs – especially in their generic forms – enjoy such widespread, legal circulation that addicted individuals can find the cost attached to ongoing use does not create immediate financial issues. Many prescription insurance plans cover the cost of medications dispensed by prescription. Additionally, due to availability, street prices of prescription drugs tend to remain low.