Are We a Pill-Popping Society?

The evidence is overwhelming. American society today is devoted to the taking of pills. Consider these facts:

  • Americans constitute only 5 percent of earth’s population, yet they consume 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs.
  • About 6.2 million Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 30 days.
  • Approximately 52 million have done so at least once in their lives.
  • About 20 percent of Americans take psychiatric pills regularly.

Painkillers are the most heavily abused:

  • From 1998 to 2008, substance abuse treatment admissions for painkillers increased by 400 percent.
  • According to the CDC, for every overdose death from prescription painkillers, there are:
    • 10 treatment admissions
    • 32 emergency department visits
    • 130 people who abuse or are addicted to painkillers
    • 825 people who take painkillers for non-medical purposes

A Problem for All Ages

The huge amount of prescription drug abuse owes partly to the huge supply of drugs. Children are prescribed Ritalin and Adderall for hyperactivity. Elders are prescribed medicine for a whole raft of symptoms, including depression, chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, etc. Thirty percent of people between the ages of 57 and 85 have at least five prescriptions. Returning servicemen are routinely prescribed drugs for PTSD. People unable to find jobs often apply for disability benefits, which are frequently accompanied by painkiller prescriptions. And persons of all demographics suffering from situationally caused sadness are often diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants.

The $230 billion prescription drug industry has provided many wonderful drugs for the sick and injured, yet it has also seemed happy to cater to the needs of persons seeking a solution to their problems in a pill bottle. While most of those needs are legitimate, some are not. Marketing of psychotropic drugs, in particular, by pharmaceutical companies has helped drive up demand.

While the federal government has been conducting a losing 40-year war on illegal drugs, an even larger problem has developed, legally, right under its nose. Today, more deaths from overdose are caused by prescription drugs than by heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.

What Can Be Done 

Experts point out that most drug abuse begins with the household medicine cabinet. They suggest the following:

  • Keep drugs that might be abused locked away from children or others who might be tempted.
  • Don’t keep medicines around that are no longer being used. The FDA offers these guidelines for proper drug disposal.
  • Never share your prescribed drugs with anyone.
  • Always use prescribed drugs appropriately. Responsible drug use starts with each and every user.

For those in need, prescription drugs are often a literal lifesaver, and pharmacologists and pharmaceutical manufacturers provide a great public service. Yet, the potential for abuse needs to always be considered – by pharmaceutical professionals, by physicians, and by patients.

For more information about prescription drug abuse and the treatment that can help your loved one get back on track, please contact us here at Axis at the number above today.