Dr. Oz: Because the medications associated with prescription drug abuse activate the brain's reward center, it's easy to become addicted to them. Addicts continue to use their drug of choice even when this use makes their lives worse—just like nicotine addicts continue smoking cigarettes even when it harms their health and they want to quit.
Q: Do people believe there are no consequences?
Dr. Oz: These are drugs that have true medical uses, so many people believe they are safe alternative to street drugs. Many patients who end up addicted to prescription drugs start with a legitimate pain condition. They develop a high tolerance for the drug, and it takes more and more of it to achieve the same effect. Also, because the drugs are created by reputable companies, the risk of a "bad trip" or contaminated batch is much reduced.
Q: What do you want Americans to know about prescription drugs?
Dr. Oz: Recognize that taking painkillers for problems not associated with physical pain is maladaptive, sort of like painting over a crack in the foundation of your health but not addressing the underlying problem.