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Young adults at higher risk for prescription drug abuse

Many states in the country have been ravaged by the opioid abuse epidemic. Indiana is no exception. The abuse of prescription opioiods is the most prominent example of a little-discussed issue: The misuse of prescription medication.

The abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise, and young adults in their late teens and early 20s are at particularly high risk. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the biggest users of prescription drugs are young people between the ages of 18 and 25. This disturbing trend may disproportionately affect Indiana’s college students.

Motivations for prescription drug abuse

What prompts young people to misuse medicine that is meant to help them? There are myriad reasons, many of which have to do with academic pressure. Some of the most common reasons that young people cite for abusing prescription drugs include:

  • Increased concentration
  • Better studying abilities
  • Losing weight
  • Sleeping/treating insomnia
  • Dealing with problems
  • Experimentation or curiosity
  • Getting high
  • Relaxation

Commonly abused prescription drugs

Some prescription drugs are abused more frequently than others. These are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs:

Opioids

Opioids are a category of drugs that are commonly used as painkillers. Because of their addictive nature and tendency to induce feelings of euphoria, they are some of the most commonly abused prescription medications. Some prescription opioids include Oxycontin, Vicodin and fentanyl.

Sedatives and anti-anxiety medications

Sedatives are drugs that induce sleep, and anti-anxiety medications are drugs meant to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders. College students who experience intense stress or have unusual sleep patterns sometimes turn to these drugs. The most commonly misused of these medications are Xanax, Valium and Ambien.

Stimulants

Prescription stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall and Dexadrine make the user feel temporarily alert and energetic. They are particularly popular among college students because they can provide an intense, albeit brief, burst of energy useful for studying or completing homework. 

The effects of prescription drug abuse

Many of the young adults to abuse prescription medications believe that there is less risk involved because the drugs were prescribed by a medical doctor. Prescription meds, when used incorrectly, can be just as dangerous as street drugs. They can have serious consequences like dependency, addiction and even death. In addition, buying or selling prescription drugs for recreational use is illegal in Indiana and can even lead to criminal charges.

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