What Is the Human Cost of an OxyContin Addiction?
Prescription drug abuse is one of the most common types of drug abuse today. People of all ages, from school children to the elderly, are susceptible to the use and abuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin. The definition of prescription drug abuse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland, is the “taking [of] a prescription medication that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed.”
The description of prescription drug abuse is fairly broad. When we think of a drug addict, we generally think of someone who is out of control and making poor decisions, sacrificing everything to obtain more drugs. With the use and abuse of prescriptions like OxyContin, the stereotype is lifted. Abuse is just as likely to occur with an elderly grandmother who would never dream of breaking the law yet finds herself content to take her pain medication more often than she should.
The human cost of an OxyContin addiction can be measured in varying degrees across every walk of life and includes:
- Changes in quality of life
- Disregard for health
- Destruction of family relationships
- Legal problems and more
Why Is OxyContin Abuse a Problem in the United States?
Many times, an individual who is prescribed a powerful drug like OxyContin has no idea how dangerous the drug can be. Even when taken correctly with strict adherence to the directions and prescription, the drug is powerful enough to create a physical dependence.
OxyContin is in a family of drugs known as opiates. Opiates are opium-based narcotics that affect the opiate receptors in the brain. These receptors have control over emotion, pain, and automatic features such as breathing and coughing. One of the reasons that OxyContin and other opiates is such a huge problem in the United States is because it prescribed for so many varying medical issues, including:
- Severe cough
- Chronic pain
- Acute pain
- Post-surgical pain
Even short-term use of a drug like OxyContin can create a physical dependence. Once dependence has been established, the human costs begin.
Changes in the Quality of Life
Because OxyContin and other opiates create a euphoric, sleeping feeling, an individual addicted to them may tend to sleep far more often than is necessary. The vicious cycle of abuse is one that convinces the addict they are simply “taking medicine” – that they are ill.
The addict may discover they are no longer enjoying activities that meant a considerable amount them, like playing with their children or participating in hobbies with friends and family.
Disregard for Health and Health Effects
The OxyContin addict, especially one who has become dependent through legally prescribed medication, is well aware of the long-term risks of opiate use. However, because of the euphoria caused by use of the drug, and the pain that comes from discontinued use, they are more willing to risk the long-term health effects.
Destruction of Family Relationships
Normally well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens can become desperate to obtain OxyContin and other opiate-based drugs. They will often cut off ties with important members of their family, or begin to lie and steal property or money to obtain more drugs.
Legal Problems Associated With OxyContin
Obtaining prescription drugs without a legal prescription is a crime; however, many addicts choose to write prescriptions or otherwise forge a means to obtain the drugs they need if their doctor is unavailable. The addict is often willing to risk jail in order to relieve the pain caused by withdrawal, as well as to achieve the euphoria that comes from overuse.