According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, more Americans abuse prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and ecstasy combined. Are you an addict?
Q: What questions do you ask when checking for pill addiction?
Dr. Oz shares the four questions you should ask yourself. Plus, more of his thoughts on this dangerous dependency.
The more affirmative responses, the more likely that the person answering is chemically dependent, and further investigation by a clinician is warranted.
- Can you go a day without your pills?
- Are you getting your pills from more than one source?
- Do you get annoyed when people comment about your drug use?
- Do you feel guilty about things you have done while using drugs?
Q: Why is this the fastest growing addiction in America?
Dr. Oz: Many times, folks get 50 pills and only need 10, so they want their money back and will sell the extras.
Most prescriptions are written for people who have a true medical need for these drugs, but many households have a drawer filled with old prescription bottles containing leftover drugs. Because prescription drugs have medical uses, teens often believe they are a safe alternative to street drugs.
In some cases, a doctor's prescription isn't even needed. Some countries don't require prescriptions for opioid painkillers or other commonly abused drugs, so they can be obtained from some websites without a prescription.
Q: Why does it seem like people are popping prescription pills like candy?
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.
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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