Prescription Drug Abuse is illegal

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- A growing problem in the United States is prescription drug abuse. When you use prescription drugs for something other than their prescribed use, that's abuse - whether you do it one time or one hundred times.The National Institutes of Health estimates that approximately 20 percent of the population have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Prescription drug abuse, especially among teenagers, is second only to marijuana use. Teenagers are not the only group at risk for painkiller abuse.

Here are some more facts about prescription abuse:

· About 1 in 5 teens gets high by abusing painkillers.
· 2,500 teens abuse prescription drugs for the first time each day.
· Though men and boys are far more likely to abuse street drugs, women and teenage girls are more likely to abuse prescription drugs, partly because painkiller abuse is more socially acceptable than street drug use.
· Women are more likely than men to end up in the emergency room or a drug treatment program due to abuse of prescription drugs.
· Men generally abuse drugs for the feelings of pleasure, while women are more likely to do so to get a perceived release from their problems
· Though older adults make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, they get about 33 percent of the prescription medications.
· Experts predict that abuse of prescription drugs among older adults will increase by 190 percent by 2020.

Dramatic changes in behavior
Some with a prescription drug abuse problem shows signs of it in their behavior. Dramatic changes in behavior should be examined. Prescription drug abuse can cause withdrawal from one's social life.

Addicts withdraw from activities they used to enjoy and often become reclusive. Dramatic drops in grades at school, or in performance at work, may indicate an addiction to prescription drugs.

Addicts may also become moody. Abrupt mood swings on a regular basis could point to prescription drug abuse. Be careful, though. An outburst on rare occasions is not abnormal for many, especially for teenagers.

Watch for increasing frequency in moodiness and for an increase in violence. Increased annoyance, secrecy, paranoia and irritability can also be signs of a prescription drug abuse.

Continued use of the prescription drug
If someone has been taking a prescription drug for a long time, without seeming to improve in condition, it could be a sign of prescription drug abuse. Someone addicted to prescription drugs may fake symptoms in order to continue receiving medication. Another indication is if the user keeps switching doctors. This may be a ploy to get extra prescriptions. Another warning sign is an increase in the amount of the prescription drug taken.

Dramatic changes in appearance
Prescription drug abuse can lead to dramatic changes in appearance. Sudden weight loss is one of the most common manifestations of this. A loss of appetite preceding the weight loss is especially telling.

However, if you notice a change in grooming and hygiene, that can also be a sign of prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug addicts eventually stop taking proper care of themselves. You may notice that a friend, relative or child stops bathing as often, or pays little attention to the neatness and cleanliness of clothes and hair.

Presence of drug related paraphernalia
Do you notice that there are more empty bottles in trash cans? Is a bottle of pills always with the other person? The presence of drug related paraphernalia could be an indication of prescription drug abuse.

Also, keep track of your own medications. If you seem to be going through them at a faster than normal pace, it could mean that someone you know is stealing them for "recreational" purposes - or even to sell to others.

Even though it is not a prescription drug, the DXM found in some over-the-counter cough medicines can be addictive and dangerous. Look for stains around the mouth of a cough medicine abuser.

Additionally, some who abuse cough medicine actually use the gel caps. Watch for empty blister packs that could indicate a large amount cough medication is being consumed.

Always looking for money
While this could merely indicate that one has fallen on hard times, it is also another sign of prescription drug abuse. Addicts need to pay for more drugs. This takes money. If someone is selling his or her treasured possessions, stealing or always asking for money to buy vague things that they "need", it could be an indication of a prescription drug addiction.

Is it really a prescription drug addiction?
It is important to realize, though, that the presence of just one sign of prescription drug abuse is unlikely to indicate a problem. Many of the above signs also indicate other problems that may not be related. The key is to look for more than one indication of possible prescription drug abuse.

The more indications of prescription drug abuse that are manifest, the higher the likelihood that there really is a problem. But it is important to be careful. It is not an accusation to make lightly.

Wingman Responsibilities:
If you are concerned about someone you work with, make time to talk to him or her. Be sure to make it clear you are worried, and that you want to help. Rather than being accusing, start out by saying that you noticed something out of the ordinary, and you want to make sure everything is okay.

Even if the other person doesn't admit to a problem right then, he or she may wake up to the fact that help is needed. If you see someone is in immediate danger, though, you should take whatever action is necessary to see help is obtained.

"The use of controlled substances is both illegal and incompatible with military service," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing Commander. "The nature of our mission at Whiteman AFB and the ability of our airmen to meet that 24/7 worldwide tasking is dependent upon their fitness and readiness. Drug use is incompatible with the ability to perform that mission and strikes at the health, welfare, and morale of any military unit, especially one with as unique a mission as that of Whiteman AFB. Two words, 'zero tolerance.' The illegal or improper use of drugs by Air Force personnel automatically places the member's continued service in jeopardy."