Abusing prescription drugs.

By David Joel Miller.

Almost 24 million Americans abuse prescription medication each year.

The majority (87%) of the people who get Rx’s use the meds responsible. The abuse is

Drug Abuse

Abuse of Prescription Drugs.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

the result of misuse by the other 13%. Many people underestimate the risks involved in using prescription drug incorrectly.

Abuse of a prescription drug can result in addiction, permanent health damage, or even death.

Just because you get your drugs with a prescription doesn’t make them safe, particularly when you don’t use them as prescribed.

What meds are abused?

The national survey on drug use and health tracks the abuse of four types of prescription medication. Besides prescription pain meds many other prescriptions meds get abused. The other big abuse culprits? Tranquilizers (5.7 million) and RX stimulants (4.8 million, and sedatives (1.4 million.) Many other medications can be misused. Prescriptions don’t work well when you take them some days and not others. I’ve learned in working with mental health clients not task them if they are taking their meds. They almost always say yes. If I asked them how many days, they took their meds last week, I get answers like two or three days. Most prescriptions will be effective if you take them sporadically. You can’t make up for missed doses by taking extra on other days.

Pain medication abuse.

One-third of the US adult population, almost 92 million people, use prescription pain meds. Of those 92 million about 11.5 million abused their prescription pain meds. The majority of people (63.4%) who abuse prescription pain medication do so because of physical pain. Given the current publicity the people abusing prescription opiates, this is significant. The main reason people with a chronic pain condition abuse meds is because they are still in pain.

Approximately 40% abuse prescription pain meds for mental or emotional reasons, to relax, to sleep, to get high or to simply see what it would be like to experiment with the drug. I think it’s important to note that much of the high-powered opiates being abuse are being manufactured or brought into the US illegally.

Even over-the-counter pain meds, while not included in many studies, are subject to abuse. People with emotional pain may experience this as pain in the body. Over-the-counter pain meds are not effective for treating depression or anxiety. Taking excessive amounts of over-the-counter pain medications can result in damage to your liver or kidney.

Abuse of prescription tranquilizers.

About one-third of the people prescribed tranquilizers abuse them. Of those abusing tranquilizers, two-thirds were using them for the reasons they have been prescribed but not in the way the doctor had prescribed them. The remaining one-third of abusers do so for emotional or recreational reasons.

A very dangerous way of abusing tranquilizers is to take them while consuming alcohol. This combination can result in death.

Abuse of prescription stimulants.

The primary legal use of these medications is to treat ADHD. About 30% of those taking prescription stimulant medications abuse them. Weight loss, to help study, or to get high are some of the reasons people reported abusing prescription stimulants.

What are some of the ways prescription meds are abused?

  1. Taking meds prescribed to someone else.
  2. Taking more pills or taking them more often than the doctor prescribed.
  3. Using prescription meds in a way other than the way the doctor recommended.

Over the counter medications were not included in the government’s survey of drug misuse despite the serious health consequences of abusing over-the-counter medications. I’ve tried to highlight some of the issues involved in abusing over-the-counter meds in the paragraphs above.

For more on this issue see SAMHSA report at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_3210/ShortReport-3210.html

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Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Recovery defined

By David Joel Miller.

What exactly is recovery?

Should we describe someone as “In recovery,” “recovering” or recovered? What about resilience. Is it in any way related to recovery? This month SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) suggested a working definition for recovery.

The word recovery is commonly used when talking about substance abuse. Recently mental health has tried to incorporate wellness and recovery language into mental health programs. But it has long been clear that not everyone agrees about what is meant by recovery.

Trying to define recovery has always been a challenge.  Not the dictionary definition, which is relatively straightforward but not simple. Some common dictionary definitions of recovery include 1 A return to health 2 Return to a normal state 3 Gaining back something that was lost. The hard part was to explain what recovery meant when related to the issues of mental health and substance abuse.

Many people describe themselves as recovering. By that they mean they are struggling with a chronic progressive disease like alcoholism or drug addiction. They do not believe you are ever cured of a chronic disease condition and continue to remind themselves that at any moment they could experience a recurrence if they were to relax their vigilance.

Some people prefer the term “in recovery.” They believe that recovery is not a passive thing that happens to them but something that requires their active participation. They need to climb on board the recovery train and move towards their goal.

Some old-time AA members describe themselves as “recovered” and they point to the title page to the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” which states that the book is “the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from Alcoholism.” They further point out the book say that “we are not cured” but “have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.”  The thought that anyone could ever be fully recovered scares other people. They point out that accepting being recovered might lead someone to become careless and think that there is not more work to do on themselves.

SAMHS has suggested the following as a working definition of recovery:

A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential.

SAMHSA delineates four major dimensions that support a life in recovery, Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.

A resiliency researcher tried to explain the difference between recovery and resiliency as – Recovery is coming back from negative consequences and resiliency as the ability to continue to function despite traumas.

A short way to think of this might be – Recovery is the process of getting back to where you were, regaining your life and Resiliency is handling life on life’s terms.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.