People don’t realize the severity of prescription drug abuse in the United States. While most people turn a blind eye to the issue, 28.6 million Americans age 12 and over struggle with substance abuse (2018 Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics You Need To Know). Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that is rapidly growing in the U.S.. It’s caused a great deal of struggle between, doctors, patients, and the law. People are genetically prone to addiction. Such phenomenon was simply unavoidable. Abuse and addiction takes a heavy toll on families of victims. Because of the growing numbers of addicts and consequences, laws and limitations had to be put into play. However even these laws had a negative effect on the innocent that truly are in need of such drugs and treatments.
Prescription drug abuse has reached very large numbers and a very wide-spread area in the U.S.. Not many people understand just how large this epidemic has become. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.1 million Americans are addicted to legal narcotics, and more than 30,000 opioid-related deaths occurred in 2015 (“Prescription Medication Abuse”). This means that about 1 in every 100 Americans are addicted to opioid drugs. Innocent lives that once had a bright future are disappearing because of these highly addictive prescriptions. However, the doctors prescribing medications are not the only scapegoat.
Humans naturally have the tendency to keep going back to something that gives them pleasure or at least helps them forget about negativity. All people have a genetic disposition for addiction, due to an evolutionary advantage to identifying foods and substances that provide pleasure…(“Prescription Medication Abuse”). No one ever wants to become an addict, but for many Americans, one dose of a prescription for an injury leads to a whole road of destruction. It’s an epidemic that could’ve been avoided if the research had presented such results sooner or in a more obvious manner, for these genes are not very prominent.
Although it is difficult to locate and identify addiction genes,’ researchers believe that genetics may nonetheless play a role, since a person with an immediate family member who struggles with addiction is at a statistically higher risk for substance abuse themselves (“Prescription Medication Abuse”). Another catalyst to addiction is surrounding environmental factors. Unfortunately, not everyone in America comes from a comfortable and happy childhood.
Not every American is living happily and comfortably as an adult either. Environmental issues can also add to the likelihood of abuse, as children who grow up in a family culture of addiction or who are introduced to substances at an early age are more likely to become addicts (“Prescription Medication Abuse”). With the addiction gene and harsh environmental factors, it makes the perfect conditions for a serious drug addiction, taking a toll on both the addict and their loved ones.
The number of drug addicts in America is high, but not nearly as high as those affected by a family member or loved one that is addicted to prescription drugs. Families that were once happy have gone separate ways or have suffered elongated periods of mental suffering and exhaustion all because one person succumbed to addiction to a prescribed opioid drug. The consequences of an adult who abuses substances and lives alone or with a partner are likely to be economic and psychological. Money may be spent for drug use; the partner who is not using substances often assumes the provider role.
Psychological consequences may include denial or protection of the person with the substance abuse problem, chronic anger, stress, anxiety, hopelessness, inappropriate sexual behavior, neglected health, shame, stigma, and isolation (Treatment, Center). Such consequences of being around an addict put these people through just about the same level of misery as the individual consuming the drugs as well. Laws and limitations had to join the story to decrease the numbers of addicts and to help secondhand sufferers.
There have been many attempts to control and end the prescription drug addiction epidemic such as prescription limits and pill counts. Major acts have also been passed to aid those recovering from addiction. In July of the same year (2016), President Barack Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) into law(“Prescription Medication Abuse”). This act and many organizations with a similar cause have helped make the arduous road to sobriety easier and more accessible to victims of addiction.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has put heavy restrictions on addictive drugs prescribed by doctors. Patients picking up their prescriptions have to give extensive information confirming that they are the person it was prescribed to and that they are not surpassing the limit of refills on the controlled substance. Doctors with regular consumers of these substances conduct pill counts so they make sure their patient is not taking any extra or picking up extra from the pharmacist. While these laws have helped somewhat control prescription drug addiction, innocent patients sometimes end up getting caught in the crossfire.
Doctors are doing their best to enforce limit laws and keeping their patients safe but innocent patients are getting booted by their doctors and all doctors in their area due to honest mistakes. Then one day last May, Craig’s pain clinic called him in for a pill count, a precaution designed to detect abuse of narcotics or diversion to nonpatients. The count was off by a week’s worth of pills because Craig had just returned from a business trip and forgot that he had packed some medication in his briefcase. He tried to explain the discrepancy and offered to bring in the missing pills, to no avail.
Because the pill count came up short, Craig’s doctor would no longer prescribe opioids for him, and neither would any other pain specialist in town (Sullum, Jacob ). Many people have encountered a similar situation as Craig. Innocent and honest patients deprived of their medication because of little mistakes. Craig and many others like him wake up every morning in pain and have to struggle through their daily activities. They simply want to do simple tasks with pain and that right is taken away from them because of laws meant for addicts. It isn’t fair that these people’s quality of life is compromised because of addicts that abuse their privilege of having pain pills.
In brief, millions of Americans suffer from prescription drug addiction. It’s an easy addiction to succumb to due to human nature to gravitate towards things that make them feel happy or relaxed. Family, friends, and loved ones are almost always dragged along on the dreadful journey of addiction, and suffer just as much as the addicted individual does. The road to recovery from addiction is difficult but federal acts and organizations have helped make it easier.
Prescription limits and controlled substances have also been put into play to lower addiction rates, but innocent people also get deprived of necessary care due to these bans and limitations. Addiction has become a nearly undefeatable epidemic that is dragging addicts down and taking their loved ones and innocent patients with them. Our country is continuing to work towards a solution that society hopes for and needs to have soon. The people want relief. The people want an end to this horrible monster we call addiction.
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