The emerging and insidious epidemic Americans should be worried about is not Ebola; it is prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse and it’s running rampant throughout the U.S. It is something that we all wish wasn’t a reality, but unfortunately it is and we can’t turn a blind eye. Prescription drug abuse is defined by the NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse as taking any medication is a way other than the way the doctor has prescribed.

The NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse also states that prescription and OTC drugs are the most sought after drugs after alcohol and marijuana by Americans aged 14 and older. This abuse includes taking medication that has been prescribed for someone else, taking more than prescribed or taking it in a way that is not prescribed, or taking it for a purpose other than that for which is was prescribed. The same can be said for OTC medications in relation to the directions on the packaging.

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No longer are illegal street drugs the only contributor to the nation’s drug abuse problem. While prescription and OTC drugs are necessary for many people and helpful when used appropriately, prescription drug abuse is becoming the fastest growing form of drug abuse in the U.S. and it is important for everyone to be familiar with the issue, especially parents. The following is what you need to know about prescription drug abuse:

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

There are many prescription medications out there and a number of them that are abused. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include:

  • Opioids, which are used to treat pain and affect the brain in much the same way as heroin
  • Medications for the treatment of sleep disorders and anti-anxiety drugs
  • ADHD medications and narcolepsy (often taken by students to improve their academic performance) and affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine

OTC Drugs are Abused As Well

Perhaps even more dangerous are OTC drugs, many of which are frequently abused. These include:

  • Dextromethorphan, which is the active ingredient in cold medications such as Nyquil and Robitussin and can affect the brain in much the same way as ketamine or PCP
  • Pseudoephedrine, which is a nasal decongestant
  • Simple pain medications, such as Tylenol and Advil
  • Motion sickness pills, such as Dramamine and Benadryl
  • Diet pills
  • Caffeine medications and energy drinks
  • Laxatives and herbal diurectics
  • Sex performance medications, such as Viagra

Teens are Particularly at Risk

Teens are at a high risk of prescription and OTC drug abuse. These are drugs that are easily obtainable, often around the house, and teens often feel as though these are a safer alternative to street drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which was conducted in 2006, more than 3 million people between the ages of 12 and 25 had used OTC cold and cough medications for the purpose of getting high and close to 1 million of these young people had done so in the year preceding the survey.

What You Can Do

Parents must be on the lookout. They should be aware of what medications are in their house and keep track of them. If you feel it is necessary, put these medications behind lock and key. Learn the symptoms of prescription and OTC drug abuse and keep an eye on your teens if you have any suspicions.

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It is also important for teens and parents to understand the facts about prescription and OTC drug abuse and the PEERx Toolkit is designed for this purpose.  If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction to prescription and OTC drugs or another kind of addiction, eDrugSearch.com has a free drug abuse support group that can help.  You can go there anytime to share your own experiences and learn from the experiences of others.

Of course, sometimes you need prescription and OTC medication, and when you do eDrugSearch.com can connect you with many other trusted online pharmacies that we have been working with for more than seven years to help you save money on your prescription medications every day. Contact us today to save between 50% and 90% on all your prescription and over-the-counter medications!