A lot of people know that drug abuse is a serious issue and it’s better to avoid it for a number of reasons. However, there is the side of the problem that is often concealed from their view, despite its terrifying scope. This is prescription drugs abuse.
We can talk about misuse/abuse of prescription drugs when a person systematically uses them for any non-medical purposes, including any other way of use but prescribed by a medical specialist. For instance,
- use of drugs in a higher dosage than prescribed or in a manner different from prescribed;
- taking other people’s drugs, even if there is some ‘legitimate’ factor for doing so, like one’s own pain;
- taking meds to get high;
- trying to get more prescriptions for drugs from different doctors;
- forging/altering prescriptions;
According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by SAMHSA, frightening number of 6,5 millions of Americans aged 12 and older have abused prescription drugs at least once within one month before being surveyed. The data reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse are even more alarming, stating that more than 48 million of Americans aged 12 or older have misused prescription drugs at least once during their lifetime, what accounts for 19 percent of our population.
Prescription drugs are now the third popular drugs of abuse after marijuana and alcohol, with teens and young adults (18 to 25) being the most active users. In addition, prescription drug abuse is currently the leading cause of death and ER admissions among all drug abusers, with 1700 young adults’ deaths in 2014, which is more than death toll from cocaine and heroine overdose combined. Also, as NIDA says, for every accounted death from prescription drugs overdose there were ’22 treatment admissions and 119 emergency room visits’.
Among the most commonly abused prescription drugs are
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, that are used for anxiety and sleep disorders’ treatment;
- Opioids, prescribed for treatment of pain;
- Stimulants, intended for ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) treatment.
Can employers test their employees for prescription drugs abuse?
The mere fact of taking prescription medication does not constitute violation of any law by an employee. Moreover, they are protected by the federal
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), that limits employers’ possibilities of testing their employees or questioning them on the subject of their health. Furthermore,FDA states that “a positive test for a prescription drug does not mean that a person is abusing the drug, because there is no way for the test to indicate acceptable levels compared to abusive levels of prescribed drugs.’
However, the company can (and, most likely, will) take action in case an employee’s behavior negatively impacts activity at workplace or results of their work, as well as safety of people interacting with the employee in question.
Moreover, there are some situations where employers have more freedom in testing their (potential) workers for prescription drugs, e.g., positions in military or police along with jobs with high responsibilities for people’s safety (like truck, public transport or commercial transportation drivers, pilots etc.). Still, the issue of prescription drugs use by employees stays a complicated and a heavily regulated field, making it extremely difficult for employers to test their workers and take action based on the fact of alleged prescription drug abuse.
How to prevent prescription drugs addiction? What to do if one is already addicted?
- Always use your medication exactly as prescribed;
- Mind your life circumstances, listen to people around you in case they have noticed the problem;
- Be responsible for your health and make a doctor appointment if you’ve realized you need treatment;
- Before the appointment, prepare lists of all the medications you have been taking, your health information, including symptoms of drug abuse and personal information that may have triggered it, as well as all the questions you have for a doctor;
- If you are a parent, maintain close contact with you kid(s) to make sure you notice certain difficulties in their lives that may lead to drug abuse. Peer pressure, wish to be accepted or relieve tension from too intense and exacting lifestyle are the main triggers here.