Prescription drug abuse is still a drug problem

When people talk about drug abuse, they typically mean illegal drugs. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines usually come to mind. And, yes, if you are using any of these, you need to get help as soon as possible. I’ll talk about this form of addiction later on.

But, what about those drugs you obtain with a prescription? Pain pills, muscle relaxers, etc. can be a real problem as well. I’ve seen people who wouldn’t dream of using an illegal substance become so addicted to a prescription drug that they do things I’m sure if they were thinking straight, they’d never consider.

Do you go to more than one doctor to get pain pills, etc without letting each of them know about the other? Do you go to different pharmacies? Do you routinely take more than the recommended dosage? Do you find another doctor when one starts talking about weaning you off your medication? Do you sometimes go to the ER for pain because you know your own doctor won’t give you a prescription?

If you answered yes to any of those, you probably have a problem. One that is every bit as dangerous as one involving illegal substances.

I recently had a chat with someone who works as an investigator for a big city medical examiner’s office. He said that he’s seen more deaths from prescription abuse in the last year than from illegal drugs. I don’t doubt that at all.



When I worked as an investigator for family court services, there were cases where ordinarily law abiding citizens had been arrested for forging prescriptions. Or, they’d been arrested for having medication on their persons for which they had no prescription. Sometimes these illegal gotten drugs from the street weren’t quality drugs and someone ended up in the hospital.

Those who abuse prescribed medications have every bit of the same type of problems as those using illegal substances. And, as for parenting, it limits your ability in that regard as well.

If you’re high or zoned out, sleeping all day, you’re not doing the things that you need to do to take care of your child. You may be giving them the bare minimum, but that’s not all they need. And, if they’re very young, you’re putting them at risk.

For those of you involved in custody litigation, you’re just as prone to losing custody or having supervised visitation as someone using an illegal substance. You can be subject to drug testing and prescription drugs can and will be tested for. Just having a prescription won’t get you off the hook, either. The lab can test the levels of the drug in your system and usually determine if you’re taking more than you should be.

So, what should you do if you realize you have a problem? Talk with your doctor. If you really are dealing with a chronic issue such as pain, your doctor can help you find a specialist in pain management.

You may also need to seek the help of a mental health professional. Or, if bad enough, you may even need professional detox in the hospital. But, you need to get help as soon as possible. Not only for yourself, but for your kids.

I’m not minimizing any conditions you may have with pain. I certainly understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I’ve done so for nearly 19 years. The last year has been especially difficult.

I’m lucky, I guess. I hate the way pain pills make me feel. I can’t even imagine liking them enough to become addicted, but I know not everyone has the same reaction.

Plus, I’ve seen what over use can do to people first hand in my work. So, I have an added incentive not to use them. I rarely do. I have to find other ways to deal with the pain. Which isn’t easy. And, I don’t expect whatever way you find to deal with it will be easy either.

What about you? Do you think prescription drug abuse is as serious as illegal substance abuse? Do you think it affects children in the home? Do you have tips on how you manage chronic pain?


*NOTE: Here’s my typical disclaimer for these posts–These opinions are mine alone and are based on my years of experience. They are not meant as legal advice nor as representative of anyone else’s opinion. If you need legal advice (and I believe if you’re involved in child custody litigation, you really do),  please consult with an attorney.

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The award-winning author of THE CONSUMING, and the zombie apocalypse series, SURVIVAL. She writes horror/sci-fi, paranormal, YA urban fantasy, suspense, and middle grade.

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2 Responses

  1. Candace

    Prescription drug abuse is terrible when used by a single parent in charge of young children. My stepson lives at home with his mother who has been in and out of rehab eight times and been seriously addicted to benzos and opiates for a decade. She has totaled four cars, two of them on the way to day care and often passes out all day. We have been in and out of court with her trying to gain custody but here is the biggest problem to over come: because of privacy laws….when the court orders her tested for drugs and even specifically states that she be tested for opiates and benzos, if she shows up to the test with a valid prescription the drug test results will show that she tested negative for the substances even though she is using them. So all she has to do is lie and say she is not taking them and volunteer for drug testing schedules and show up to the lab with a script. Meanwhile her drug use has gotten so bad her parents have picked up house and moved ten hours away so they can take care of her son and hide her drug use. They have already been caught lying to police and CPS about her drug use. The whole situation is a nightmare and meanwhile an innocent boy with a sober steady Christian father and home has to endure a life watching his mother spiral in and out of withdrawal and hope that one day his mom doesn’t total her car AFTER she picks him up. And his father has to worry about getting the call that he’s been killed or that he’s come home to find his mom dead.

    • Rhonda Hopkins

      Candace – I’m sorry for your situation and that of your husband. It’s my understanding that the labs can tell if there is abuse of the drug (i.e. more in her system than what the prescription calls for). However, I’m not certain and by no means an expert on lab findings or maybe the laws are different where you live. You might have your attorney talk to the lab to see if this is possible. Good luck!