When most people imagine substance abuse, they think of alcohol, cocaine, and illicit drugs that cause addiction and destruction. Unfortunately, many Americans do not recognize the dangers that prescription drugs can present, mistakenly assuming that they are entirely safe because doctors prescribe them. Upon examining the most recently available Arizona drug use facts, it is easy to see why so many in the substance abuse treatment community are concerned about prescription drug addiction.
The United States National Institute on Drug Abuse and many other agencies worldwide collect and analyze data to determine the best approach to substance abuse treatment. A recent report of Arizona opioid-involved deaths shows that prescription drugs are more deadly than most people assume, and it’s vital to clarify these dangers. If you or a loved one use any prescription medication, consider the following facts and carefully evaluate whether you may be experiencing any form of dependence.
Arizona Drug Abuse Statistics and Facts
The recently released reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse can reveal quite a lot about the ongoing drug abuse trends seen throughout Arizona communities. No part of the United States is untouched by the prescription drug crisis that has persisted for more than a decade. Consider the following facts and think about whether substance abuse impacts your life and what you should do about it.
1. Deaths from Drug Overdoses Are Now More Common Than Car Accident Deaths
In 2009, federal researchers concluded that 1,200 more deaths in Arizona occurred from drug overdoses than car accidents. The number of prescription drug-related overdose deaths in Arizona eventually reached about 30,000 in 2015. This trend has continued with minimal interruption, with only small decreases seen in the death rate in the past few years.
2. Prescription Drugs Are Easy to Find
It is not only relatively easy for any adult to obtain prescription drugs through a legitimate medical issue, but it is also possible for people to obtain prescription medications that were not prescribed to them. It’s easy for teenagers to steal prescription pills from family members and friends. Sometimes, these losses can be easily overlooked, allowing a substance abuse habit to escalate unseen by others.
3. Prescription Drug Abuse Tends to Develop at Younger Ages
Due to the ease with which most people can obtain prescription drugs, it’s much easier for teens and young adults to obtain these drugs than it is for them to get their hands on illicit street drugs at younger ages. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious accidents when teens and young adults experiment with prescription medications that are too strong for them or interact with other substances they might consume.
4. Many Prescription Drugs Can Be Deadlier Than Illicit Drugs Bought on the Street
Some of the drugs prescribed to patients in the US include heavy-duty painkillers and serious narcotics. Some of these medications can cause fatal effects in people who take them without a legitimate medical need and a prescription to do so. For example, some powerful opioid-based painkillers may cause respiratory depression, potentially leading to an individual who has taken them to stop breathing while asleep.
5. About 5% of People Use Prescription Drugs Non-Medically
It’s common for people of all ages to experiment with drugs for recreational purposes. Federal research suggests that about one in 20 US adults have used a prescription medication in the past to experience pleasurable side effects. For example, many opioid medications are powerfully euphoric. Usage patterns like this can easily lead to the development of dependency and addiction. Recreational experimentation with addictive prescription drugs is one of the most likely driving forces behind the trend of ongoing prescription drug abuse in Arizona.
6.Prescription Drug Abuse Costs the Nation Billions Each Year
Around 2010, the projected annual cost of prescription drug abuse in the United States was estimated to be around $55 billion on the conservative side of estimation, and that number has risen since. This cost includes the medical expenses related to treating substance abuse and overdose incidents and lost productivity in the American economy due to employees experiencing substance abuse and recovery.
7. Abusing Prescription Medications Can Lead to Other Forms of Substance Abuse
Prescription medications are widely available and easily accessible to most of the population. It would not be unrealistic to suggest there is likely to be at least one prescription medication in almost every home in America. Research has already shown that prescription drug abuse is more common in teens and young adults due to their tendency to experiment with recreational drugs. Unfortunately, this experimentation can easily have a snowballing effect at younger ages, compelling early users to experiment with other, potentially more dangerous and habit-forming drugs.
8. Substance Abuse Disorders Develop Differently Across Gender Lines
When it comes to prescription drug abuse in Arizona, men and women tend to develop these substance abuse patterns along different lines. For example, men are more likely to abuse prescription drugs for the sense of euphoria they can create. In contrast, women are more likely to abuse prescription drugs for mood stabilization, alertness, or weight loss.
9. Prescription Drugs Are Widely Accessible
There are prescription drugs of all varieties accessible from almost every home in the country and new drugs hitting the market and reaching new stages of development every day. It is not difficult for almost anyone to obtain a prescription for an abusable drug or steal habit-forming medications from others. The ease of access to prescription drugs in the US is one of the most dangerous driving forces behind the ongoing prescription drug abuse epidemic.
10. Prescription Drug Abuse Can Be Hard to Detect
Any substance abuse can be concealed, but one of the most destructive aspects of prescription drug abuse is how easy it can be for someone to hide that habit. While some abusable drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and mushrooms are more obvious and alarming to the average person, most people would not think twice about seeing someone take a pill from a prescription bottle.
Prescription drugs are legal with a doctor’s prescription, so it’s easy for anyone to justify having and taking prescription medications, even if they do so for recreational or non-prescribed purposes.
Additionally, some people have developed pharmacy and prescription scams, including creating “pill mills” to facilitate a thriving black market for prescription pills and facsimiles. This makes it easier to hide illegal drugs and increases the risks associated with prescription drug abuse. These illicit pills can appear exactly like pills created in a legitimate pharmaceutical lab but contain any number of hidden additives and contaminants.
What Are the Most Commonly Abused Drugs in Arizona?
Of all the prescription drug abuse in Arizona, opioid abuse is by far the most destructive. Arizona residents may receive prescriptions for opioid-based medications following major surgeries or serious traumatic injuries. Other prescription drugs with potential for abuse include benzodiazepine-based medications like Xanax and Klonopin as well as stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate.
These prescription drugs can cause an incredibly destructive addiction and a pattern of behaviors that can be difficult to detect and address. At Illuminate Recovery our individualized treatment programs offer support for every level of care. From detox to aftercare planning, our professional staff will help you understand what treatment services are right for your specific circumstances and develop a custom plan for your personal success. Please contact us to learn more.
Having been on both sides of active addition, both the person using, and the person affected by a loved one using drugs and alcohol, Lucas has been involved in recovery since 2009. He has been working in the treatment industry since 2013. Using his personal experience and wealth of knowledge learned from professional development and immersion in the recovery field, he has spoken with thousands of families and helped hundreds of people attain long-term sobriety. In 2020, the opportunity presented to join in and start Illuminate Recovery. Understanding the importance of personalized treatment plans and the complex nature between substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, has helped Illuminate Recovery build a strong curriculum and a phenomenal staff. Illuminate Recovery now has a medical doctor who is board certified in addiction medicine and a psychiatric medical doctor who works side by side with independently licensed therapists to provide compassionate and effective treatment.