Prescription Drug Abuse among College Students

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While alcohol abuse remains the most common form of substance abuse in college, prescription drug abuse is rising at an alarming rate. This is because these medications are widely available. Prescription drug misuse is defined as prescription drugs by people who have never been given a prescription for the drug or who use the cure for the experience rather than the intended purpose. Drug misuse does not include the use of over-the-counter medications. The majority of students may be unaware that their peers are abusing these substances. Those who use them do not realize the negative impacts of misuse if these medications. They think that since they are approved by FDA, they are safe; however, this is not the case. This paper shall explore this issue of prescription drugs abuse, its effects and how it can be dealt with.

Prescription drug misuse has increased immensely over time, and one of the causes is the accessibility of these drugs. Unlike other abused substances, prescription medications are available through numerous channels, and it is quite simple to get them. The internet is among the key sources of these medications, and everyone has access to the internet. This implies that anyone can order them (Hall et al. 170). Even though, some websites sell controlled prescribed medications, they do not need a prescription to give them out. A majority do not have measures in place to block minors from buying the drug. Others obtain the drugs through doctor shopping. That is visiting several doctors to obtain several prescriptions for the same medications. At times, individuals attempt to alter their prescription by altering the quantity or dosage of the prescribed drugs. Another way of obtaining the drugs is by purchasing them from friends, or people selling their won prescribed medical illegally for profits. Other may buy several doses from different pharmacies (McCabe et al. 97). There are some who might even go to the extent of stealing drugs from guardians, other family members or their friends for their own uses or sell to those wanting to utilize the drugs for recreational reasons.

There are several reasons why college students abuse medications. Firstly, numerous individuals have this misconception that medications are not harmful like the banned drugs like cocaine. This is because a majority of the prescribed medications are approved by FDA and when used well, are very helpful in alleviating diseases. Others use it to intentionally get high or get a good feeling. Some even combine it with alcohol (Arria and Robert 420). Some misuse prescribed drugs to help them be attentive in class while others use higher doses in an effort to alleviate their sickness faster. Other use it to self- medicate. Also, prescription drugs are less costly compared to the banned substances like heroin or cocaine. So it can offer an alternative to these prohibited substances, plus the prescription drugs are not illegal. Prescription drugs can appear appealing since they are manufactured in sterilized and reliable environment (Teter et al. 1508). Finally, there is no legal risk involved in having or using the prescription medications. One can easily carry them around without any fear.

Some of the frequently abused prescription medications include Opioids, central nervous system depressants as well as stimulants. Opioids are a group of drugs used in treating pain. CNS depressants are for treating nervousness along with sleep disorders. Stimulants are for treating ADHD, mental disorders, and obesity. Misuse of Opioids can lead to restlessness, muscle and bone aches, insomnia as well as uncontrolled muscle movements in the legs (Teter et al. 1503). Long-term use of Opioids can lead to organ damage. The other effects of abuse of prescription drugs include heart attack, stroke, seizures as well as high blood pressure.

Stimulants may not have any negative health effects but might lead to psychological effects. To handle this menace of misuse of prescription drugs, several players have to be incorporated. The abuse of prescription drugs is often known as smart doping y the college students. They think that they are no negative effects. Maybe one of the ways of stopping the misuse is by educating the students of the harmful effects of misuse of these drugs (McCabe et al. 100). Physicians, as well as other medical practitioners, also play a key role in ending the abuse. There are ways in which physicians can monitor the misuse of a drug like opiate by monitoring possible misuse.

Physicians need to be aware of the prevalent abuse of the drugs; therefore they need to ask the patients of all drugs they are using. Even though some student might get a prescription for stimulants by lying to the doctors, in most instances, the medication is received in the course of essential medical treatment. Physicians when prescribing medication for ADHD or opioids, they need to warn the students of the possible health risk of misuse (Arria and Robert 422). They also need to inform the students of the health risks of long-term use or combining several drugs. They should inform the students of the illegality of selling prescribed drugs. Additionally, physicians ought to screen the students of possible signs of drug misuse when prescribing the commonly abused prescription medications. Laboratory tests ought to be conducted to monitor the recent use of drugs, and if a student test positive, then intervention is necessary.

Pharmacists can assist the students in comprehending the instructions on the medications. By being on the lookout for prescription forgeries or changes, the pharmacist can act as a primary defense in identifying problematic patterns in prescription drug abuse. There are some pharmacies that have established hotlines to inform different pharmacies in the area when they identify a falsified prescription (Hall et al. 172). Together with doctors, they can utilize Prescription drug monitoring programs to aid in tracking prescription patterns in patients. Additionally, pharmacies would not give out drugs, especially, the commonly abuse medications without a prescription from a physician.

Parents also can help in fighting prescription drug misuse. Enhancing guardians’ comprehension of the menace of non-medical use of prescription medications shall allow them to talk about this problem astutely with their children. Numerous guardians may not understand that their children are abusing prescription drugs (Maxwell 266). They might even be encouraging the behavior by pressuring their children to perform well in school hence causing the students to turn to stimulants. Parents ought to discourage their children from turning to stimulants and instead encourage responsible study behavior. They ought to emphasize the importance of responsible behavior such as never skipping classes, studying for exams on time as well as completing their assignments. They should also help their children in understanding proper eating habits. If they suspect a prescription drug abuse or other substance abuses, they ought to intervene by helping the children seek help immediately (Arria and Robert 425). Parents and guardians should caution against drugs abuse and set attainable goals for their children.

School Institutions needs to intervene in the fight against drug abuse. Nonmedical use ought to be perceived as a form of substance abuse just like heroin, cocaine or alcohol abuse. Institutions ought to promote awareness of the dangers of selling prescribed drugs. The administrators should work together with the government and medical professional in teaching the students about the dangers of misusing prescription medications (McCabe et al101). Some of the students might not even be aware of the dangers of non-medical use, and it is even worse since the institution says nothing about it. If the information is available, chances are abuse rates might go down. The college health facilities ought to discuss the risks of abuse when student seek medical care.

Students who are caught selling prescription drugs to their peers ought to be reprimanded. Those found to be suffering from addiction should be helped immediately. Whereas the media and institution normally focus on the other substance abuse, the problem of the prescription drug abuse should be given emphasis as well by the federal government, medical industry and the school institutions as well (Maxwell 267). It might be surprising to know that the prescription medications misuse might be even higher than other substance abuse like alcohol since it does not pose challenges in term of acquisition or legal risks.


The key solutions of eliminating this issue are highlighting the health risks associated with this type of abuse. Awareness is key to dealing with these problems. Educating every player, particularly the students, guardians and medical professional shall go a long way in dispelling the myths and reducing its prevalence. The media also needs to enlighten the public by using verified statistics. Prescription drug abuse is not widely known therefore awareness shall go a long way in preventing and minimizing it.

Works Cited

Arria, Amelia M., and Robert L. DuPont. "Nonmedical prescription stimulant use among college students: why we need to do something and what we need to do." Journal of addictive diseases 29.4 (2010): 417-426.

Hall, Kristina M., et al. "Illicit use of prescribed stimulant medication among college students." Journal of American College Health 53.4 (2005): 167-174.

Maxwell, Jane Carlisle. "The prescription drug epidemic in the United States: a perfect storm." Drug and alcohol review 30.3 (2011): 264-270. (Maxwell 266)

McCabe, Sean Esteban, et al. "Non‐medical use of prescription stimulants among US college students: Prevalence and correlates from a national survey." Addiction 100.1 (2005): 96-106.

Teter, Christian J., et al. "Illicit use of specific prescription stimulants among college students: prevalence, motives, and routes of administration." Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy 26.10 (2006): 1501-1510.

August 09, 2021

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