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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Pill popping

America's dangerous habit of being heavily medicated

America is pill obsessed.
Its citizens take pills for everything. Pills help millions with everything from getting erections to relieving depression.
Many citizens in the United States believe that the most dangerous drugs threatening the country are illicit narcotics like marijuana and cocaine.
They are sadly mistaken.
The most heavily abused drugs are the ones found in the medicine cabinet at home. Prescription drugs need to be the focus of America's war on drugs.
But no one seems to care. After all, it is convenient to pop a pill that's in your own home in order to feel good for a while.
The numbers are scary when it comes to prescription abuse. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), in 2000, the number of Americans on prescription drugs was 3.8 million. Six years later, that number jumped to 7 million and it is still climbing. That is an 80 percent increase in six years.
According to the DEA, those numbers are higher than the number of Americans who use illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy, and inhalants — total.
But it's not only the use of the drugs that's the problem. According to a Center for Disease Control study, 40 percent of teens and parents believe that abusing prescription narcotics is safer than abusing illicit drugs.
America has a drug problem. It is a lazy nation and instead of getting real treatment, people find it easier to pop a pill. It is not just teenagers being teenagers. Everyone needs to understand that prescription drugs are just as harmful as other substances.
The most common prescription abused on college campuses is Adderall. Because of its widespread use and acceptance in society, it is extremely difficult to calculate the number of Americans who use it. Many experts assume roughly 20 percent of college students are on the medication.
Adderall makes students focused, allowing them to do a tremendous amount of work with limited interruptions. In other cases, it can be taken before drinking, which allows kids to drink copious amounts of alcohol in a night and hardly feel the effects.
Because of these effects, there is an amazing market for the pills on campus. Many students sell the leftovers from their prescriptions to make quick money.
The CDC also found that about one-fourth of all emergency room visits resulted from abuse of prescription drugs. Fifty-two million Americans age 12 or older have reported non-medical use of any prescription drug – that's almost 21 percent of that population group, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2008.
Is life so difficult that Americans need to be doped up all the time?
These drugs do serve useful purposes in helping people with actual problems function in society. But when controlled substances are abused and easily obtained through purchase or fraud – such as walking into a doctor's office and saying it's difficult to concentrate – something has gone horrible wrong.
The scariest part is that many in this country fail to realize the dangerous side effects of these drugs. For example, some pain relievers can slow or even stop breathing. Sedatives can cause seizures.
And let's not forget the dangerous mix that occurs when alcohol is added to those pills.
To reverse this trend, a few things need to occur. One is much stricter testing in order to prescribe prescription drugs. The other is the realization, by parents and doctors alike, that pills aren't always the answer.
It doesn't seem like the vicious cycle is slowing down any time soon.



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