Prescription drug addiction has become one of the largest epidemics in American history. Millions of Americans are prescribed prescription medications, many of whom eventually become addicted. The three classes of prescription drugs that are the most susceptible to abuse are:
- Opiates – Used to treat moderate to severe pain (Oxycontin, Opana, Fentanyl, Percocet, Vicodin and Roxicet)
- Benzodiazepines – Used to treat anxiety disorders (Xanax, Valium)
- Amphetamines – Commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (Adderall)
While these do have legitimate medical uses to patients, many patients abuse them and are still just as susceptible to health problems as those who abuse street drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal meth. Since Oxycontin was released in the U.S. market in 1996, prescription painkiller abuse has more than quadrupled in the U.S. and remains the largest contributor to drug overdose deaths.
Many people make the mistake of believing that just because these medications are prescribed from a doctor, they are safer to abuse than street drugs. Many will justify their addictions by using the fact that they are prescribed them and actually have a legitimate need to use them. While these medications do require the permission of a doctor to obtain them, there has been a large rise in morally-questionable doctors who are capitalizing on their high demand.