America’s addiction

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Prescription drug abuse plagues young adults

Prescription drug abuse has become a huge problem in the United States, particularly for young adults. It is easy to blame individuals for abusing these drugs, but drug abuse is an issue that needs to be tackled by making larger institutional changes.

American culture is all about instant gratification and there is a pervasive belief that there is a pill to solve any problem, whether the issue is physical or psychological. Instead of dealing with the underlying issues, doctors and psychiatrists are quick to prescribe medications.

The number of children being prescribed amphetamines to deal with their attention deficit hyperactivity disorders has been increasing steadily for children ages 4 to 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even if a child is not prescribed the medication, they will likely encounter another child who is, for ADHD or a number of other reasons.

This normalizes the idea of drug use from an early age, even if the drug has been prescribed by a doctor. Young adults ages 18 to 25 are most likely to be abusing prescription drugs, especially opiates and amphetamines, like Vicodin and Adderall, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Many college students use prescription stimulants as study aids, especially around midterms and finals. Others believe it is all right to use opiates even without a prescription to relieve pain and some just want the high, but self-medication is risky.

“More people in the U.S. died last year of drug overdoses than in car accidents, making prescription drug misuse the third leading cause of accidental death,” according to the Clinton Foundation.

The issue is exacerbated by the media’s portrayal of individuals who abuse drugs as glamorous and witty, whether they are fictional characters or celebrities. Reality shows centered around interventions and drug rehabilitation have sprung up all over the place.

On top of that, pharmaceutical companies are given free reign to advertise on all media platforms, giving the impression that there is a drug to solve every problem. These commercials may even plant the idea in a suggestible person’s head that there is something wrong with them when there is not.

In general, the government needs to do a better job regulating the pharmaceutical industry and the media. Prescription drug advertisements should be banned entirely. If a person is ill, his or her doctor should be competent enough to prescribe the right medication.

Doctors should also stop prescribing children under a certain age stimulants and, when they do, parents can refuse to give them to their kids. Brain development lasts well into young adulthood, so prescription drugs should be the absolute last resort.

Until those larger institutional changes are put in place, we as individuals can make healthier choices when dealing with our problems. Instead of procrastinating and taking Adderall to study for a final, you could spend time developing better time management and study skills.

Regardless of the drug of choice, medication is always a crutch and never a solution. It is time to get in touch with what is really behind this epidemic, so we can begin the process of healing our wounds holistically.