Prescription drug abuse in America

Chronic pain, anxiety and attention deficit disorders are some of the most common health issues in America. The CDC estimates that nearly 20% of US adults experience chronic pain in a given year, and the National Institute of Mental Health makes a similar estimate for the number of adults suffering from anxiety. If you’re seeking help for any of these issues, it’s important to understand the latest facts about prescription drug abuse. 

Prescription drug abuse in America is on the rise. Usage and deaths are rising, and drug manufacturers are in the spotlight. Drug manufacturing giant Purdue Pharma recently reached an $8 billion settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in the opioid crisis – but the fight is far from over.

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug abuse, you’re not alone. Learning the facts about prescription drug abuse and its side effects is the first step to getting help.

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Facts about prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse is any use of your prescribed medications that does not follow the instructions on the label. This includes taking too many, taking them too frequently or for off-label purposes. Prescriptions are supposed to be for your benefit. If you’re using the effects of prescription drugs to help you numb emotional pain, give you more energy or escape from reality, that’s prescription drug abuse. 

Prescription drugs aren’t dangerous when they’re taken as prescribed; many people do so, and the result can be extremely helpful for their physical or mental issues. They’re taking the right steps toward recovery. However, many people struggle with prescription drug abuse in America: The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 54 million Americans have non-medically used prescription drugs in their lifetime. 

If you struggle with prescription drug abuse, it’s important to know that it isn’t all in your head. It affects you physically and can even change your brain chemistry – this is why addiction is beginning to be seen as a disease rather than a psychological condition. 

So how do prescription drugs affect your brain? They cause your brain to crave that substance on a biological level. When you decide to take responsibility and stop, your brain will wonder what’s going on. Your addiction will attempt to overtake your thoughts because it’s telling your body you need that chemical to survive. But of all the facts about prescription drug abuse, one that is consistently true is this: you can get help.

What are the effects of abusing prescription drugs?

If you notice that you have a tendency to wander off your path and err toward risky behavior, you’re putting yourself at risk of beginning a dangerous habit. When used incorrectly, prescription drugs can be dangerous. Many people fall victim to these effects of abusing prescription drugs.

Decreased impulse control

People with substance use disorders are not only putting their lives at risk, but they’re also changing their brain chemistry – without even knowing it. When you’re addicted to prescription pills, your brain changes; you replace your standard needs with deep cravings to find and use your drug of choice. This alters your impulse-control and other imperative brain functions.

Erratic moods and behavior

Prescription drugs are intended to change our feelings, moods and behavior. Depressants relieve us of anxiety; stimulants help us focus and be more productive. When used improperly, the effects of abusing prescription drugs are multiplied and can result in someone seeming very hyper or depressed. This can also include changes in sleep patterns – either sleeping more or less than usual, depending on the drug being abused.

Mental confusion

Slowed reactions and confusion are common effects of abusing prescription drugs, particularly depressants, which lower your neurotransmission levels. Abuse will increase these effects to the point where you may have trouble answering easy questions, performing everyday tasks and remembering basic information. Driving and operating machinery on prescription drugs is especially dangerous.

How to treat prescription drug abuse

When you notice signs of prescription drug abuse in yourself or someone you love, the first thing you must do is connect with a medical professional. A doctor or psychologist will be able to recommend a course of action or a treatment facility, but there are also a few things you can do on your own. If you’re struggling with the effects of prescription drug abuse, it’s time to draw strength from others and learn how to fight back.

Find and build support

Is there a secret for why treatment groups like Alcoholics Anonymous work so well? It’s not just because AA delivers impactful strategies – it’s because the organization brings together a group of like-minded people determined to overcome their challenges.

The struggle with prescription drug abuse in America can be a lonely path. It can feel like there’s no point in picking yourself back up if no one is by your side cheering you on. If you continue to feel like you’re taking this challenge on alone, you start limiting your beliefs. It’s important to surround yourself with the support and love of people who are already here for you.

showing support for someone dealing with prescription drug abuse

During your recovery, you’ll want to re-establish healthy relationships. Remind yourself what these people mean to you in your life and spend time with them. Don’t overthink it. This could mean having dinner with your loved ones on a regular basis or joining a soccer team with your coworkers. Being around other people that want to see you succeed will empower you. 

Not sure who to turn to? You can ask a professional to guide you through your journey, like a trained Results Coach, to help you move past your struggles and toward your goals.

The power of reframing your thoughts

woman dealing with prescription drug abuse

To truly break free, you must recognize the physical and psychological facts about prescription drug abuse. You’ve decided that you’ve had enough, and you’re committed to ending your addiction. Now, you need to recognize and reframe your thoughts.

Catch yourself in the act: When you crave the effects of prescription drugs, what are you doing? Is it at a certain time of day? Are you using the drug as a response to some triggering event, like stress or personal conflict? Your mindset plays a significant role in the actions you decide to take. When you feel yourself beginning to think about using, transform your thoughts. You believe that you need these drugs to feel better, but it’s time to tell yourself a different story. Drop your negative thoughts as they arise and redirect your mind to positive goals instead.

Reawaken your passions

When was the last time you went after something you truly wanted?

Take time to think about what you really want out of your life. Is it financial freedom? A loving relationship? Prescription drug abuse can hinder these goals. Devise a plan to go after your goals and tell yourself that there’s nothing more important that will get in your way. With your true purpose at the forefront of your mind, you’ll leave your addiction behind – you’ll write a new chapter.

Perhaps one of the biggest facts about prescription drug abuse in America is that it is rampant. But change starts with you. Speak with a medical professional about your course of action, then change your behavior through goal-setting and locating your support system.

exercising to deal with prescription drug abuse

Important note

The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. See full disclaimer.

Ready to live pain-free without prescription drugs?

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