Prescriptions New Drug of Choice

When it comes to drug addiction, marijuana and cocaine may not be what you need to worry about. A new report finds more people than ever are using prescription drugs to get high.

Cotton-O'Neil Dr. Eric Voth says he's seen prescription drug abusers from pre-high school age all the way to the elderly. He says a lot has to do with ease of access. He says if a doctor isn't paying close attention and just writes a prescription, it's pretty cheap and easy to get a hold of. Plus, he says, some people will move around to different physicians.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found more than 15 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs, double the amount from 1992. The highest percentages of users, it says, are kids. According to its report, in a ten-year period, painkiller abuse among teens shot up 542 percent.

Dr. Voth says, in some cases, parents become the unwitting suppliers. Teens will head to the medicine cabinet and take the adults' prescriptions or a sibling's medication.

Dr. Voth says prescription drugs can also be easy to get on the streets. Part of the reason is the internet. Many people get e-mails or find websites offering cheap painkillers, often without a prescription. Dr. Voth says he feels such sites are no different than mail order cocaine, except they've found a loophole in the system.

Dr. Voth does caution against panicking if you legitimately take a medication. He says it rarely crosses the line into addiction, but there are signs. For example, he says, if the dose is unstable, if it keeps going up and up and up and they never get enough, or if they start making up symptoms, then you can be suspicious that some manipulation may be going on.

As far as teens, Dr. Voth says parents should be alert for any pills they may have and also keep their own prescriptions locked up.

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For more information, visit the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's web site:
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse


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