Prescription drug abuse has increased in America and among college students with nearly half of full-time college students abusing prescription drugs, according to a Columbia University study.
Nearly 25 percent of those college students meet the standards of having a problem with substance abuse or dependence, according to the study.
One in five college students have admitted during national surveys to using prescription drugs without having a prescription, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
At the UofA, three arrests for prescription drug abuse occurred between Jan. 1 and April 6. All arrests were in January, according to UAPD crime logs. Prescription drugs found at the time of the arrests included Vyvanse, Benztropine Mesylate, quetiapine fumarate, Abilify, diazepam, Adderall and Flexeril, according to UAPD crime reports.
In 2013, several crimes occurred in regards to prescription drugs, as 20 instances were reported by authorities at UAPD. In 2013, three arrests occurred in January, one in February, one in March, one in April and none during May or June. There were three arrests in July, two in August, three in September, one in October, four in November and one in December.
Among those arrests, 11 of those were non-affiliates and nine were students.
The most commonly abused prescriptions among college students are Adderall and OxyContin.
Adderall is known as the “study drug.” Adderall is typically prescribed to people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder. Students who take that medication without a prescription report a heightened sense of motivation, focus and concentration, which can assist in pulling an all-nighter and provide an added boost before an exam.
Adderall does not make a student smarter—it simply helps eliminate distractions and allows students to stay focused.
OxyContin is a narcotic pain reliever that was introduced in 1995. It is now a widely abused drug among college students nationwide. In fact, it’s considered the most abused prescription drug in the United States. Each year, the number of students overdosing on the drug rises, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
As of 2013, Arkansas had the highest rate of teen prescription abuse, according to Community Organization for Drug Education. Abuse of pain relievers is the highest rate among ages 12-25. Seventy percent of people in that age group admitted to obtaining prescription drugs from parents, other family members or friends, according to whitehouse.gov.
In general, Arkansas is ranked 25th among drug overdose mortalities. More than 12 percent of the population in the state suffers from drug overdose fatalities, according to the article “Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic” on healthyamericans.org. One person dies daily in the state because of prescription drug overdose.
It is illegal in any state to sell, trade or give someone medicine that he or she is not prescribed. Prescription drugs are considered controlled substances. If authorities find illegal prescription drugs in a person’s possession, they will arrest them, as prescription drugs are considered Schedule I and Schedule II drugs, according to Arkansas state law. Unless the person is distributing the drugs, the person will gain a misdemeanor for the first and second offenses and an automatic felony on the third offense.
Prescription drug abuse is also the fastest-growing drug problem in America. Deaths from prescription drug overdoses are the second leading cause of accidental death behind car accidents, but in some states, those overdoses are the leading cause of death, according to addictnation.org.
Death rates for drug overdoses have more than tripled in the U.S. since the 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of 2013, the amount of fatal drug overdoses increased for the 11th year in a row. Seventy-five percent of those were pain medication overdoses, and 17 percent were attributed to suicide, according to the CDC.
In 2013, Federal Drug Administration officials said they took action against nearly 10,000 websites that illegally sold pharmaceutical drugs. More than $40 million worth of illegal medicines were seized worldwide that same year, according to the FDA. Misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers have cost the country more than $53 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs, according to drugfree.org.
Statistics show that prescription drug abuse is a national problem. Officials from multiple government agencies have said they are working to curtail the increasing problem through education, budget cuts and additional programs in states across the nation.
Only 1 in 10 Americans with substance abuse disorder receives treatment.
Representatives from the Pat Walker Health Center said they take the problem seriously. Pat Walker officials said there are resources for counseling and treating students who may be abusing prescription drugs.
Nationally, the types of prescription drugs most commonly abused are pain pills, muscle relaxers, anti-anxiety medication and stimulants, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The most common prescription drugs abused are Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Klonopin, Valium, Xanax and Adderall. More than 9 percent of Americans have abused these prescription drugs, according to the National Institute of Health.
Among all drugs that are abused in the nation, Adderall accounts for 7.6 percent; Vicodin, 7.5 percent; tranquilizers, 5.3 percent; sedatives, 4.5 percent; OxyContin, 4.3 percent; and Ritalin, 2.6 percent.
There are various effects and health risks resulting from prescription drug abuse. The effects of depressants include sedation, drowsiness, reduced anxiety, feelings of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, and impaired coordination, according to the NIH.
Health risks for depressants include lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, tolerance, withdrawal and addiction. Taking depressants can result in death if taken with alcohol. There are three types of depressants: barbiturates, benzodiazepines and sleep medications.
The effects of pain relievers include euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, weakness, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, dry mouth, itching, clammy skin, sweating and constipation, according to the NIH.
Health risks of pain relievers are slowed breathing, lowered heart rate and blood pressure and addiction. They may also cause comas. The most common types of pain relievers are codeines, morphine, methadone and fentanyl, according to the NIH.
The effects of stimulants include feelings of exhilaration, increased energy and increased alertness. Health risks include increased blood pressure and heart rate, weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, heart attack and stroke. Types of stimulants include amphetamines and methylphenidate.
Among those who are addicted to prescription medications in America, more than 5 million are addicted to pain relievers, nearly 3 million are addicted to sedatives and tranquilizers and more than 1 million are addicted to stimulants, according to the NIH.
The Clinton Foundation organized a campaign to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse on college campuses in 2013. Campuses were enlisted because of the increasing problem among college students.