There’s no doubt about it, the United States is an overmedicated country.  A large degree of concern and consternation has been placed lately on the over-prescription issue drugs in the United States.

Just to show some context on this, the United States contains only a mere 5% of the entire world’s population but we as a nation consume more than 75% of the entire world’s annual supply of pharmaceutical drugs. There’s no way that this is at all normal or natural.

The United States is actually known worldwide and world over for having an over-prescribing issue. We quite literally have a drug for everything, even though other countries consider that in the vast majority of occasions no drug is needed to handle most psychological and physical conditions. Furthermore, the overprescribing issue that is occurring might not be such a bad thing if it wasn’t for the fact of the terrible side effects that go along with these medications. The fact is that, for Americans, the drugs that they are being prescribed are addictive, very powerful, mind altering, body altering, and very often fatal.

Many have speculated as to why these drugs are being approved and why they are being used but the bottom line is that they are very much here and they seem to be staying as well. In light of that fact, medical schools have now begun to include instruction on the risks of over-prescribing and how to avoid over-prescribing as a part of their programs. Even for family doctors and general medical practitioners this is a requirement now, and thankfully so.

What is the Big Problem?

What is the big idea behind overprescribing? If they help, why is it a problem? The problem is because drugs are not the solution.  They are a bandaid.  In fact they are often a problem in and of themselves. Drugs create a condition within the human body and mind where the user of the drugs begins to rely on the drug itself for handling the problem rather than the individual handling the problem himself or herself or using a holistic method of handling it instead.

Drugs that fall in the category of heart medications, oncology medications, anaemic condition medication, and basic health issue medicine are a marvel of modern pharmaceutical science and are very helpful and beneficial. However, drugs like psychiatric medications, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, stimulants, tranquilizers, steroids, and prescription pain relievers are far more often way more trouble than they are worth. And to top it all off, it is these drugs that are prescribed way more often than they should be.

Though the FDA seems to continue to be insistent upon approving so many of these medications that often lead to be addictive and sometimes fatal, it is now finally a requirement in the United States to receive prescriber training and education on the risks and restraints that must go along with prescribing such drugs for anyone looking to get into the medical field.  This is true for even nurses and nurse assistants, even though they do not do any prescribing themselves.

The statistics alone on the effects of over-prescription and over-prescribing of ourselves are enough to make one realize why this is now a priority. For example:

• Of the 25 million Americans who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, almost 10,000,000 of them alone are addicted to prescription drugs.

• Prescription drugs kill more Americans every single year and all other drug substances combined. That’s more than 30,000 deaths from prescription drugs every year alone.

• Prescription drugs are also causing the youth of the nation to become far more addicted than they ever were before. Prior of the turn of the century, a young adult’s first exposure to drugs was usually with marijuana or some type of hallucinogen. While this is certainly not ideal, hallucinogens and marijuana are not going to be very addictive and they are certainly not deadly. Now however studies show that the gateway drugs in the United States that are the most common are, (still marijuana), but more importantly are also prescription drugs. This means that teens and young adults are abusing prescription drugs and dropping like flies as a result of these abuses.

• An epidemic of prescription drug abuse has hit the nation and in a big way too. Since the turn of the century, the sale, distribution, and proliferation of prescription drugs into the hands of the American populace has increased by more than 300%. Following with that, the numbers of individuals who die from prescription drugs every single year has more than quadrupled since 2001.

• Statistics show that Opiate abuse and Opiate addiction cost Americans over $484 billion annually. This amount includes healthcare costs and abuses of the healthcare system, lost wages, car accidents, crime, and criminal justice system costs.  This is almost always in relation to pharmaceutical opiate pain relievers, not to heroin as is commonly believed

• These types of occurrences must be stopped if it is ever hoped that the prescription drug issue is going to cease. Last but not least, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently label the prescription drug abuse issue in the United States as a legitimate epidemic. This is the very first addiction issue in the United States to ever receive the label of an epidemic from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the end, increased education and understanding about the risks that go along with prescribing prescription drugs and how to avoid over-prescribing them is a very good start for the American medical field. However, it is not nearly enough and it will be required that a lot of work be done on this if the future is to look much better than it is now. Intensive rehabilitation efforts must be taken to really make sure this is handled correctly, and intensive prevention methods to stop individuals from becoming addicted to these substances in the first place is also necessary.

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