Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Recession and Prescription Drug Abuse

These are perhaps the worst times for the economy since the Great Depression of 1929. With many stressors looming large, coping with the down turn may be causing many people to abuse prescription drugs.

A major effect of recession is that of unemployment and as per the latest statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both the number of unemployed persons (10.3 million) and the unemployment rate (6.7 percent) has continued to increase in November. After the recession started in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.7 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points.

Prescription Drug Abuse

While most people consume medicines only for the reasons their doctors prescribe them. However, an estimated 20 percent of people in the United States at some point in time have taken pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical reasons. And the problem of prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing.

In the context of recession, experts believe that quite a few stressors have surfaced including job loss, health problems caused by stress, gloomy weather, bounced checks, a declining job market, increased heating bills, etc. The American Psychological Association (APA) recently reported that people report financial issues related to money (82 percent), the economy (82 percent) and work (69 percent) as sources of stress. The households with children are more likely to report money (88 percent v. 80 percent without children) and work (74 percent v. 67 percent without) as significant stressors this holiday season.

While some abusers, especially the poor depend on street narcotics and alcohol, others choose narcotic painkillers , sedatives and tranquilizers and stimulants. Also, the declining pharmaceutical industry sales figures might be a consequence of people postponing expensive medications for illnesses such as heart disease. However, this foregoing of treatment shows up as increases in sales of pain killers and mood elevators.

Experts don't exactly know why the problem of drug abuse is increasing, in general. Some point to the increased availability of drugs. And that doctors today, prescribe more drugs for more health problems than ever before. Part of the reason is also the existence of online pharmacies that make it easy to get prescription drugs without a prescription – a tactic that works even for youngsters.

Even more surprising is the fact that how some school students who've used amphetamines, tranquilizers, or narcotics other than heroin are able to get hold of these pharmaceutical drugs. An investigation by the University of Michigan in 2007 found that the most common source was getting them free from a friend or relative, followed by being sold the drugs by a friend or relative! And lastly by purchasing them from a dealer or stranger.

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