Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, May 27, 2011

Prescription Drug Abuse

We have heard it in the news, seen it in recent surveys, and some have even experienced the negative consequences of prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem among teens and young adults.  In 2009 an estimated 16 million people (or 6.4 % of the population 12 years and above) reported non-medical use of pain relievers, tranquillizers, stimulants and sedatives.  About 7 million were “current prescription drug users”.  The most commonly abused prescription drug of choice is pain relievers.  Many teens report the easy access to their parent’s medical cabinet or friends to be the source of their addiction.   The 2006 NCAA Study of Substance Use of College Student-Athletes found that 4.5% of student-athletes reported using Adderall without a prescription in the previous 12 months. With the recent deaths of young promising football players possibly being attributed to pain killers and athletes such as Erik Ainge admitting to abuse, it is important to discuss the problem of prescription drug abuse and ways we can all help eliminate this issue.

A common misconception that accompanies the abuse of prescription drugs is that they are safe unlike illicit street drugs because they are prescribed by a medical professional such as a family doctor. This however, is untrue. While prescription drugs have uses in medicine, they are not harmless. Substances like Adderall and Oxycodone are highly addictive.  Prescription drugs are designed to be used under the supervision of a physician, who knows drug interactions, your medical history, and the proper dosage for you. Taking drugs without a prescription is not only dangerous, but deadly. 

Who is at risk?
Anyone whom is prescribed a drug is at risk of addiction or other adverse reactions, however the risk is elevated anytime you ingest more than what is prescribed, with alcohol or take a drug that is not specifically prescribed for you.  Listed below are some additional examples of individuals or groups at risk:

·         Addictions to other drugs including alcohol
·         Teens or young adults
·         Exposure to an environment where there is drug use and peer pressure
·         Pressure to perform or succeed
·         Easy access to drugs
·         For student-athletes, the need for prescription pain medications may lead to the abuse of these drugs. Keep your eye on athletes you know have a prescription for signs they may be abusing the pills.

Most commonly abused drug categories
·         Opioids – Usually prescribed to treat pain (Codeine, Opium, Morphine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone)
·         Centeral Nervous system depressants -  prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders (Abmien, Lunesta, Xanax, Valium, Ativan)
·         Stimulants – prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD, and narcolepsy (Amphetamines (Adderall), Lisdexamfetamine - (dextroamphetamine with lysine) (Vyvanse) Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin), Methamphetamine (Desoxyn)

Warning signs of prescription drug abuse
                Dramatic changes in behavior
                Poor hygiene habits
                lack of energy
                Inability to concentrate
                Loss of coordination
                Hostility or aggression
                Increased anxiety

How do we reverse the trend? How can we, as coaches, athletic trainers, teacher, friends, and family help?

Education is key. Many drug and alcohol education programs don’t address the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Student-athletes, students, friends, coaches, parents, everyone needs to be educated. Adults, especially parents, should lock up prescription medications. Anyone with extra prescriptions should watch for a drug take back day and dispose of their medications. At the very least, monitor your prescriptions and know how many you should have and when your next refill should be needed. Educate teens and young adults on the dangers of sharing prescription medication, taking more than the recommended dosages.

Awareness is important.  Everyone should be aware of the warning signs/symptoms of prescription drug abuse. Please become more educated and turn to professionals such pharmacist, doctors, and other experts for more information.


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