Why Has Prescription Addiction Become So Popular?

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In recent years, the abuse of prescription drugs seems to have risen. The NIDA estimates that there were around 2.1 million people in the U.S. who were addicted to prescription medication in 2012. In all the media attention surrounding prescription medication addiction and abuse, many often ask why it has become so prevalent in recent years.

Increased Availability

More prescription medications are being released every year in order to better combat disease. Diagnoses for conditions that require prescription medication have increased and more and more people are being prescribed opioid medications like Vicodin for pain management. The medication is regulated up until it leaves the pharmacy, where it becomes the sole responsibility of the patient.

The DEA considers legal drugs to be just as dangerous as illegal ones, largely because they are so unregulated once they are in the home. The person who has been prescribed the medication in the first place isn’t always the one who develops an addiction to it; family members have just as much access to a prescription drug as the patient does.


Prescription Addiction

Opiate medications are being prescribed more readily for pain management.

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly developing more and more medications each year. As a result, there is a lot of competition between drugs that treat conditions in a similar manner. In order to survive on the market, a drug will have a lot of marketing done in order to reach the audience of potential patients, most of whom do not fully understand the medication and its side effects.

The constant onslaught of drug advertisement can cause prescriptions to be written without complete understanding from the doctors and patients, making it easier for someone to develop issues like addiction.

Pain Treatment Styles

Every physician has their own approach to treating disease. From a combination of their education, their time in the field, and what they’ve seen from patient to patient, doctors tend to know what will work and what won’t. Complaints of pain are often seen as minor unless the pain is debilitating.

There is almost an instant recommendation from medical professionals to take over the counter pain relievers in response to a headache or joint pain. Even after a medical procedure like surgery, pain medication is usually prescribed with instructions to “take when needed”.

The treatment of pain tends to be very lax, only being heavily monitored when under direct care.


For many, it may be seen as cheaper to just pop a few pain pills than go through the hassle of the doctor’s office. Unregulated self-medicating can cause a person’s tolerance to increase, making it difficult for doctors to prescribe an effective dosage of a controlled pain medication.

Even when medication is prescribed, patients may still choice to self-medicate rather than follow the instructions of their doctor or pharmacist. Doing so can be incredibly dangerous; the NIDA reports that the amount of deaths caused by an accidental overdose of prescription pain medication has more than quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999.

As patients may not fully understand all of the side effects and dangers associated with their prescribed medication, increasing the dosage due to tolerance and/or addiction can be fatal.

If you or a loved one has an addiction, please contact us through our website or call 800-442-6158 Who Answers? for more information about treatment and recovery options.

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