Prescription Drug Abuse: A Social Problem
October 28, 2013
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Not only does our healthcare system make it very easy to receive controlled medications, but once they’re out of the pharmacy, nearly anyone has access to it. It’s not just the regular drug addicts anymore, either. Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem among people of every age and each gender for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to relieve pain, stress, symptoms, side effects, or for any other reason, people seem to believe that prescription drugs are the only cure. However, the drugs aren’t entirely helpful ...view middle of the document...
“ Three percent, or 840,000 teens ages 12-17, reported current abuse of prescription drugs in 2005, making this illegal drug category the second most abused.” (The Anti Drug, 2006)
The functionalist perspective - which focuses on social systems, how they operate, how they change, and the social consequences they produce - says that drug use is based on social norms, and it is, therefore, not normal for a person to abuse prescription medications. Prescriptions are medications assigned to a person, by a medical professional, which is intended for that person's use only in order to relieve them of unwanted symptoms. The doctor lays out a set of directions which tell the patient when to take it, how many to take, and for how long. Therefore, prescription drug abuse is a deviant and addictive behavior and occurs when there is a breakdown of control, whether on a personal or societal level.
Prescription drugs are particularly appealing to young people. That may be because doctors prescribe medications for someone in their own household, meaning all they have to do to get the pills is open the cabinet. If it was safe for mom, dad, brother, or sister, then why wouldn’t be safe for them to use as well. Usually the young person will noticed a desired effect within the person the drug was assigned to. “20% of teens say they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription. Why? Some people think that prescription drugs are safer and less addictive than street drugs”. (Dowshen, 2010)
The best way for prescription drug abuse to be regulated is for them to be made less readily available to the public. The United States has taken measures and precautions to take prescription drugs intended for misuse, out of the hands of the public and are also searching for pill mills, which make massive amounts of these drugs available to known abusers. “The federal government announced its first-ever comprehensive strategy to combat the abuse of Oxycontin and other opiates, aiming to cut misuse by 15% in five years.” (Anderson, 2011). In addition to cracking down on pill mills, heavy fines are placed on pharmacists who knowingly provide medications to addicts. The functionalist solutions are quite in line with the government’s approach, “The new approach will depend on education, stepped-up law enforcement and pill-tracking databases, with particular emphasis on Florida, where 85 percent of all oxycodone pills in the nation are prescribed." (Anderson , 2011)
The functionalist perspective also calls for better training for community police officers, and community programs which provide opportunities to keep children supervised while parents are unable to be in the home. Other programs are being provided to inform people of how to safely dispose of drugs that would otherwise sit available to anyone in the home. While these strategies fail to diminish intents or desires to use the prescribed medications, there are programs, such as narcotics anonymous,...