Easy access is key to the rising number of young adults abusing prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Though many addictive drugs require prescriptions, this does not prevent many who take such drugs for recreational use from obtaining them.
"I know it is out there,” said Cindy Denne, director of student health services and services for students with disabilities at the University of La Verne. “These medications are extremely accessible.”
With access to family members’ and friends’ medicine cabinets Denne said it is easy for students to take a few pills here and there without being noticed by their friends or family members.
College can be very difficult and some students turn to alcohol or drugs to help them deal with life and stress.
“Our society is all about quick fixes,” Denne said.
Students come to the health center to ask for sleeping pills, which can be very addictive.
Instead of just writing a prescription, Denne said they try to help the students deal with the source of the problem and send them to the counseling center.
“Obviously it is dangerous,” Angie Cruz, sophomore Spanish major at ULV said.
Cruz said she does not use any drugs, but she has used Benadryl so she could sleep during a flight.
According to “Stopping Drug Use Before it Starts,” “Prescription drug abuse has emerged as a new drug threat that requires a concerted response from every sector of our society. The trends are clear. In 2006, the latest year for which data are available, past-year initiation of prescription drugs exceeded that of marijuana. Abuse of prescription drugs among 12 and 13 year-olds now exceeds marijuana use, and among 18 to 25 year-olds, it has increased 17 percent over the past 3 years.” The article can be found article at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/policy
The United States National Library states on its Web site that 20 percent of people in the U.S. have used prescription drugs for a use that was not intended, and they consider that to be prescription drug abuse.
Over-the-counter-drugs can be even more accessible and just as dangerous.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has a section on their Web site dedicated to informing the public about dangers posed by OTC drugs.
The site at http://family.samhsa.gov/get/otcdrugs.aspx states that more than 125over-the-counter drugs cantian dextromethorphan (or DMX). This ingredient is used in cough suppressants in either caplet or lquid form.
The Administration warns that “DXM” can cause a high and can also cause impaired judgement, nausea, hallucinations, brain damage and death among other complications.
Though the site is geared toward making parents aware, anyone can visit the site for more information.
In February 2007 the federal government issued guidelines for safe disposal of drugs to prevent misuse because of the rising number of people abusing prescription drugs.
Suggestions include taking unused medication to a pharmacy that accepts the medication, taking the drugs out of the original containers and emptying drugs into trash that includes things like old coffee grounds.
Information about the abuse of OTC and prescription drugs can be found on many government and other Web sites.
Susan Acker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org