Opinion
Prescription drug abuse poses a threat to students
Old Gold & Black
By
Staff Writer
Friday, January 20, 2017

There’s an epidemic sweeping the nation. More and more kids — each younger than the last — are finding themselves chained to an orange bottle given to them by their doctors. 

We are a society that has managed to engineer a pill to solve any given problem. Can’t sleep? Ambien. Can’t focus? Adderall. Stressed out? Xanax. It’s a slippery slope and a dangerous game to play.

Now I am not some luddite who wishes we could go back to the “good ol’ days” before we had medicines and prescriptions that could help us. Some people need medications to have a fulfilling life and to have a chance at normalcy. There is not, nor should there ever be, any shame or embarrassment in that.

However, the line between the people who may benefit from these prescriptions and who may be harmed by them is an ever-blurring line.

College is a vulnerable time for many students. The unique combination of stress, peer pressure, curiosity and sense of freedom shared among all students makes the abuse of these common and potent drugs all the more likely. Even worse, the pervasive attitude of “screw it, it’s college” encourages the development of these dangerous and life-altering habits from adolescence through adulthood.

Furthermore, the climb from Adderall, to Oxy to Cocaine to Heroin is not quite as clear and not quite as defined as one may think. Students who engage in prescription drug abuse put themselves at risk for various other risky behaviors.

Students who abused the medication Adderall (typically prescribed for treatment of ADHD) were four times as likely to participate in dangerous “Binge-Drinking” and were eight times as likely to have experimented with cocaine, according to drugabuse.gov. These trends spell out a dangerous future for today’s youth.

On the flip side of the issue is the profitability of a medical clientele addicted to prescription drugs.

Doctors for decades have been able to receive monetary compensation from pharmaceutical companies, in turn promoting said company’s drugs. These payments were typically hidden and covered under “Research Costs/Payments.”

However, with the passing of the “Physicians Payment Sunshine Act,” a sub-act of 2015’s “Affordable Care Act,” medical doctors, chiropractors and a variety of other medical professionals are required to disclose their payment records.

Yet, even with this long-overdue transparency, the practice of doctors pushing drugs upon their vulnerable patients still occurs and is directly affecting the health of today’s college students. This breach of trust is directly helping to contribute to the rising prescription drug abuse problem on today’s campuses.

Today’s prescription drugs are potent, dangerous and deadly. Furthermore, a combination of over-prescribing by doctors, and the unique climate of a college campus makes students especially vulnerable to abuse. Don’t become a statistic and don’t be a dollar figure for pharmaceutical companies. Keep you and your peers safe by avoiding prescription drugs.