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Prescription Drug Addiction Follows Availability And Effect, Not Safety
The majority of people checking into drug treatment clinics for prescription drug addiction or abuse may have abused a dozen or more different prescription drugs because they’re part of a new culture that celebrates pill-popping as a way of life.
Using prescription drugs recreationally is common across America, from grade schools through high school, college and on into the work place. Even seniors, especially aging “baby boomers”, are reaching for prescription drugs like never before to get high, instead of traditional street drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. And if one prescription drug isn’t available, almost any other one will do. Only marijuana is more commonly consumed than prescription drugs.
This trend has led to soaring rates of prescription drug addiction everywhere in the country. Opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab and many others, including the generic opioids oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and morphine, are all dangerously addictive and have caused tens of thousands of cases of prescription drug addiction. Some of them, especially OxyContin and methadone, are killing more Americans than all illicit drugs on the street combined.
The recreational prescription drug culture has led to most cases of prescription drug addiction, but a large minority — some think as much as 40% — have become addicted after taking legitimate prescriptions exactly as a doctor ordered.
Some experts say that the soaring abuse rates derive from a perception that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs. Prescription drugs may be safer than street drugs in terms of purity — street drugs are cut and contaminated with all sorts of unknown and potentially dangerous substances. But as anyone who suffers from a full-blown prescription drug addiction will attest, there is nothing safe about prescription drugs once you’re either addicted or dead.
This safety concept about prescription drugs evaporates when you consider that prescription narcotics, antipsychotics, tranquilizers and a host of other drugs can get you hooked or killed just as easily and quickly as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine.
Prescription drug addiction is based on the fact that prescription drugs can and do get people high. And prescription drugs are safer to obtain and are available absolutely everywhere — there’s no need to lurk in dark alleys or seedy parts of town to find them.
Prescription drugs are passed around among friends and relatives by the thousands every day. They are sitting out for the taking on kitchen counters, in medicine cabinets, and on bedside tables in almost every home in America.
Yes, many of those suffering from prescription drug addiction wind up supporting their habits by buying stolen prescription drugs from street dealers. But most get their fix by faking symptoms to get prescriptions from a doctor — a lot safer than scoring heroin or cocaine from a street dealer.
Until the government, the medical profession, and especially the public, wake up to the fact that prescription drug addiction is a serious epidemic, the problems will continue.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people addicted to prescription drugs stream into treatment centers every day seeking help, and more and more are turning to more comprehensive medically-based detox clinics, rather than submitting themselves to the difficult, hit-and-miss one-size-fits-all drug detox modality so prevalent, and so ineffective.
These newly-developed protocols carefully consider each patient’s unique metabolism and DNA, state of health, the type of drug or drugs used, and the extent of physical dependence. They provide selected assistive therapies where needed, and watchful 24/7 medical supervision is always present during the detox period. Called medical drug detox, this approach reduces or eliminates unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and can greatly reduce the time required to complete the detox.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.
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