Prescription for abuse

Columns Opinion

Turning to drugs to cope

By Casey Samyn, Campus Life Editor
By Casey Samyn, Campus Life Editor

In today’s world, the solution to every problem seems to be taking a pill. If someone is hyper, they should take a pill to calm down. If someone Suzies not have enough energy, they can take a pill to speed up. Cannot sleep? Take a pill. Too much sleep? There are pills for that too. For every “extreme” behavior, there seems to be something to fix the person’s behavior to become what everyone else describes as “normal behaviors.”

Some high school and college students, 14 or older, who are being prescribed medications—such as Xanax, Adderall and Ritalin—are taking an extra pill or two here and there, with the excuse that they are extra anxious or need to concentrate a little bit more to get something done. Those who have been prescribed these drugs might reason with themselves thinking that because the doctor prescribed it to them, it’s safer. Those that think this way are not taking into the account that doctors take important information like people’s weight and other medication’s that they might be taking into consideration when prescribing a dosage for a drug.

In 2010 the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence reported that the number of fatal overdoses with prescription medication was 38,329, or 6,657 more than deaths caused by firearms.

Taking more than what is prescribed is an unacceptable coping skill that can lead to dangerous life-long habits.

Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders and depression. In 2013, according to the CDC and FDA, Xanax was listed as the tenth most abused prescription abused. People who abuse it exhibit side effects such as mood swings, nervous breakdowns and crying spells.

Hypothetically, an 18-year-old girl named Suzie lives with her parents who pay for her doctor’s visits and prescriptions. Suzie was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and sleeping troubles early in her high school career and takes Xanax for anxiety. After taking medications for several years, she feels content and thinks there is no need to continue her medication. She stops taking all of her medications on her own. Realizing that she is unhappy without them, instead of going back on all of her medication, she decides that she will try to take her recommended dosage of just her Xanax (because she is sleeping okay, but is feeling stressed out). Suzie was prescribed .5 mg (the smallest amount is .25mg) of Xanax originally. But instead, she takes .75mg, and it hits her hard the first few times. She feels good, and her anxiety is decreased, but then she builds up a tolerance to that dosage and increases it again and again until she maxes out on the highest dose medically recommended (2mg).

What happens next?

Suzie is worried. She has been taking 2mg of Xanax for quite a while, but is still feeling anxious. She starts taking 2mg two times a day, just to be safe, but is not feeling that well. She gets dizzy and tired (two side effects of taking Xanax). Suzie is sitting in her house one day, alone. She is feeling depressed (another side effect of too much Xanax) after taking her second dose of the day. She thought maybe it would be a good idea to take some of her antidepressants because her dizziness is giving her insomnia, so she takes her sleeping medication, just in case. Xanax Suzies not mix well with several other medications when taken in extreme amounts.

A major problem is that there are websites luring young people into a false sense of security about these drugs. Forums on these websites improperly educate students on dosages and side effects.

This leaves troubling questions

How can this be stopped? There is no way to monitor the internet for these websites.

How Suzies one deal with this prescription drug abuse fad? Students who have addictive behaviors so young cannot be trusted if their problem is “solved.” It’s hard to monitor what they are taking every morning and night with everyone’s busy life style.

Ultimately, friends need to recognize behavioral changes and not tolerate abuse. Parents should look into the side effects and addiction levels in harmful drugs before giving them to their child. On top of that, a true friend will intervene and report the abuse to their doctor prescribing the drugs, which, in the long run, prevents not only the student prescribed abusing the drugs, but also the student selling or giving them to others.

MC