What Makes Prescription Drugs So Addicting?

What Makes Prescription Drugs So Addicting?

Prescription Drugs Are Addicting

Prescription drugs are not harmless. The Trust for America’s Health shares, “Prescription drug abuse has quickly become a top public health concern, as the number of drug overdose deaths….doubled in 29 states since 1999…Prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths” (“Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic,” 2013). Despite these and other statistics related to the risk of prescription drug abuse, the rates of addiction continue to grow.

Lack of Regulation and Prescription Drug Addiction

Part of the reason prescription drug addiction rates are allowed to rise is a lack of regulation and education. The Trust for America’s Health reveals that less than half of the states require medical providers to undergo further training and education before prescribing potentially addictive painkillers. While many states have plans in place to monitor prescriptions and curb doctor shopping, only 16 require medical providers to participate. When doctors do not have the information available or programs in place to prevent addiction, patients are at greater risk.

Determining Prescription Drug Abuse

The following factors determine when use becomes abuse:

  • How often the drug is used
  • How much of the drug is used
  • How the drug is administered
  • If the drug is used in conjunction with other substances
  • Why the drug is used

Using a drug more than prescribed, using it in a non-medically-approved manner such as crushing and inhaling or injecting the drug, using the drug in conjunction with alcohol or another drug or using it to achieve a high or other desired effects beyond those it is prescribed for determine when use has become problematic and when addiction is more likely to develop. Part of why prescription drugs are so addictive is that it is easy to use these substances in ways that count as abuse.

Risk Factors and Prescription Drug Abuse

While the decision to abuse a drug is ultimately an individual’s, many factors contribute to this decision and affect how and when addiction develops. Co-occurring mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety make misuse more appealing or abuse and addiction more likely. Peer pressure and drug availability influence choices to misuse a substance, while genetic factors and the chemical structure of drugs themselves determine the development of physical addiction.

Ending Prescription Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug abuse or addiction, do not struggle alone. Call our toll-free helpline to get connected to the mediation, intervention, or treatment resources that will offer you help and hope for a drug-free future. We are here 24 hours a day, so there is no wrong time to call. Please pick up the phone today.