Vicodin. Lortab. Fentanyl. To people suffering from serious pain, these powerful drugs are a godsend. Most patients prescribed these and other commonly misused drugs never abuse them. They are able to work with their doctor and manage their drugs safely. While prescription drug abuse is a serious problem, it’s important to remember that the problem is not the drugs themselves, but addiction, abuse and misuse.
Which Drugs are Abused? The drugs most commonly present in drug-related deaths in Montana are hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and Fentanyl.
- Vicodin and Lortab contain hydrocodone, the most frequently prescribed opiate in the U.S.
- OxyContin (“oxy”), Percodan and Percocet (“percs”) contain oxycodone, which treats pain but has a long history of abuse. These are most popular among teens.
- Methadone is generally used to treat addiction to heroin and other opiates, but carries its own potential for abuse.
- Fentanyl, most often in the form of a patch, is a pain reliever 100 times more potent that morphine.
Why would anybody do this? While abusers and misusers make up a minority of folks using these drugs, that number is growing and presenting an increasingly serious problem to our public safety and our public health.
People abuse prescription drugs for a variety of reasons, including:
- a perception that prescription drugs are “safe,” or at least safer than street drugs like cocaine and heroin.
- a perception that misusing or sharing these drugs is not illegal, when in reality it may be considered a felony.
- the highly addictive nature of many prescription drugs.
- a lack of training within the medical and pharmaceutical professions. Only a minority of doctors, nurses and pharmacists have received training in recognizing and dealing with addiction or drug diversion.