An article in this week’s Huffington Post by Dr David Sack highlights the increasing problem of prescription drug abuse among women. In the US, the number of women developing this type of problem increased by over 400 per cent between 1999 and 2010 – we can expect a similar situation here in the UK. According to Dr David Sacks, women are particularly attracted to prescribed painkillers. He goes on to say that this culture of female addiction to prescription medication began in the sixties when the drug valium developed a reputation for being ‘mother’s little helper’.
In the majority of cases, women fall into the trap of prescription medication abuse due to the ease of availability. In the past, doctors would only prescribe things like opiate painkillers to those who were dealing with severe pain, such as cancer patients. These days there seems to be a great deal more leniency when it comes to handing over these drugs, and it may also be the case that doctors are willing to keep on prescribing them for longer than is required.
Patients today have far more knowledge about available treatments, and this may mean that they are putting pressure on doctors to prescribe the stronger drugs. When it comes to things like chronic pain, it can be very difficult to accurately assess what the patient is experiencing – a general rule of thumb is that pain is as bad as the patient claims it to be. There is also a culture of prescribing drugs for all types of ailments when often medications are not the right answer.
Most women who begin taking prescription medication will have a valid reason for doing so. They do not intend to become addicted – they only want to get their symptoms under control. So long as they stick to doctor’s orders and only use the medication to treat their symptoms, there should be no real problem. The danger is that these drugs will often have pleasant side effects, such as feelings of euphoria and a sense of well-being. Once these effects are noticed, individuals can begin to take these drugs for the wrong reason. They may then even begin to manipulate doctors in order to get their hands on more of the drug.
According to the article by Dr David Sack, the number of women dying from prescription drug overdoses has also risen dramatically in recent years – it is five times what it was a decade ago. In the US, 18 women die every day due to this type of overdose. Females also experience the negative impacts of prescription drug abuse far more quickly and strongly than men do. This means that they can end up doing a great deal of damage to their body.
The dangers of prescription drug abuse for women can be far reaching. It can mean that they are unable to take care of their work, family, and social commitments, while this type of behaviour can eventually lead into behaving unethically in order to get their hands on the drug. One of the biggest dangers with prescription drug addiction is that it can go undetected for so long. This means that women may do a great deal of damage to their body and mind before the problem becomes noticeable. Like all addiction, it involves a downward spiral, meaning that the longer people remain addicted the more they are going to end up losing.