Prescription drug abuse is a common issue in the United States. In 2017, an estimated 18 million people had misused or abused prescription drugs within the last year. As the number of prescription medications and their usage continues to increase, so does the accessibility of these drugs, which in turn leads more people to abuse them. Even though prescription medications are designed for medical treatment and approved by doctors, they can be just as dangerous as any other illicit substance when abused.
Prescription drug abuse is defined as the misuse of any prescribed medications in ways unintended by the doctor or medical professional. Someone who is abusing prescription medication may start with drugs prescribed to them for legitimate medical reasons. However, as time passes and dependence is developed, people often need to find ways to keep receiving them even after the prescription has ended. Someone with an addiction to prescription drugs may steal medications from friends or family, lie to doctors about symptoms to get another prescription, or purchase drugs illegally.
Prescription drug abuse can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. As prescription medications become more commonly used within the medical community, they also become more accessible to those at risk of developing a dependence. Prescription drug abuse can be prevalent in young people due to the ease of access.
There are often misconceptions about the misuse of prescription medications stemming from the fact that the medical community approves them. Some people assume because doctors prescribe these medications that they must be safer than other drugs. However, if a person is taking these drugs in ways not intended by their doctor, they can be just as addictive and dangerous as any other substance.
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