Prescription drug addiction types, causes, and finding help electricity 101

More Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any year before, according to the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of these deaths can be attributed to the rise in prescription drug abuse, an epidemic that continues to grow.

While people misuse a wide range of prescriptions drugs, opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants and stimulants are the most widely abused. Opioids such as hydrocodone and OxyContin have been responsible for more overdose deaths than any other prescription substance.

Prescription opioid painkillers have become a driving factor in the increasing number of overdose deaths over the past 15 years. The amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States has nearly quadrupled since 1999, according to the CDC. The amount of pain Americans reported from 1999 to 2014 remained stable, yet the number of deaths from prescription opioids increased nearly fourfold during this time.

Prescription drug addiction is becoming more common. Treatment facilities across the nation are facing a massive influx of people with prescription drug use disorders. These individuals often struggle with cross addictions as well and may be dependent on multiple substances. Prescription drug addiction is expensive and usually becomes too costly to maintain, which drives many opioid users to heroin as a cheaper alternative.

One in five American adults has a mental illness. Of those 49 million people, 7.9 million had both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Many of those individuals struggle with prescription drug addiction.

Individuals with a serious mental illness (a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities) have higher rates of substance use disorders, especially among young people. In 2014, 35.3 percent of adults 18 to 25 years old with a serious mental illness also had a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Those with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders use prescription drugs illicitly — often in conjunction with other substances, such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine — to alleviate the symptoms of their disorders. Turning to illicit prescription drugs for this purpose, such as using opioids or benzodiazepines to decrease anxiety, provides only temporary relief and frequently progresses to an addiction once the individual has become dependent on the substance.

• National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014, May 14). America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse. Retrieved from

• National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014, January). DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines. Retrieved from

• National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014, November). Prescription Drug Abuse: What are some of the commonly abused prescription drugs? Retrieved from

• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014, September). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Summary of National Findings. Retrieved from