I wrote last week about Charlie Sheen and how his life has unraveled because of his addictions. We had a guest speaker come to a work meeting today to talk about substance abuse, and I thought his timing was impeccable.
Substance abuse is different than addiction. Addiction means you have to have a substance. You crave it. You cannot complete your day to day activities without it. Substance abuse is using a substance in a way that is not intended. It is not just alcohol that can be abused, it can be prescription medication or even food.
In my state, prescription medication abuse is a big deal. And a big epidemic. It is right behind meth addiction. Why do you think prescription medications are such a big issue? Many people do not think twice about prescription medication abuse. Abuse of meds can be sharing with someone who the prescription is not intended for, taking the wrong dosages or not finishing out the pill bottle and saving some “just in case.” Sharing pills has made prescription medication abuse sky rocket. The mentality of “just borrowing” or “trying out” a pill from a friend.
How can you avoid prescription medication abuse?
* Only take the amount you are prescribed, when you are supposed to take it. You will risk bigger side affects if you take your medication incorrectly.
* Do not share medication. When a doctor prescribes medication it is only intended for the person on the prescription label. Medications can react badly with one another, and if you take medications without consulting your doctor, you could risk medications reacting with one another.
* Lock up your medication. Prescription medication abuse often happens with medication is shared without the prescribee’s knowledge. Medication is often stolen from homes because they are easy access. Who just leaves medication in the medicine cabinet? An addict will go to any lengths to get their fix, and by leaving it in your medicine cabinet you are making it easy for them. Lock up your medications, especially put out of reach of your children.
* Monitor how much medication you have left. One sure way to catch someone skimming off the top of your pill bottle is to pay attention to how many pills you have left. If you notice some are missing, you might have a big problem.
* Use in moderation. Prescription medication is a gateway drug. Oxycontin drug abuse leads to heroin use because the prescription is so expensive.
* Encourage your local leaders to enact laws so doctors will talk with one another about prescription medications. Some people are using their individual health insurance to shop different doctors to get more prescriptions when their first doctor says no. Currently, doctors do not use a system that checks to see what medications you are currently taking. “Shopping” doctors and pharmacies is becoming popular for prescription medication addicts.
* Dispose of your medications correctly. Extra pills should not be kept around in the medicine cabinet. They should be properly disposed of at your local police station, not down your toilet.