Resources to Address Prescription Drug Misuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines the misuse of prescription drugs as the use of a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed; the use of another person’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or the use of a medication to feel euphoria.
Almost half (46%) of Americans ages 18 to 50 reported misusing prescription drugs, according to a study published in 2022 by JAMA Network Open. And while many different types of drugs can be misused, the three classes of prescription medication that are most commonly misused include:
which are usually prescribed to treat pain.
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants
such as tranquilizers, sedatives and hypnotics, which can be used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
which can be prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This complex public health problem has many experts worried because misuse can lead to addiction, hospitalizations, overdoses and deaths. In the 12-month period ending November 2021, more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Vital Statistics System’s Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts.
When it comes to addressing this issue, knowledge and awareness can be vital for communities and individuals. The resources below provide important information for people seeking help for their own struggles with prescription drug misuse and for those working to create healthier communities.
Types of Resources for Addressing Drug Misuse
Crisis and Help Lines
- 800-662-4357, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): confidential, free, 24-hour information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members experiencing mental and/or substance use disorders.
- 741741, Crisis Text Line: free, 24-hour support by texting “HOME” to connect with a crisis counselor.
Prescription Drug Misuse Support Organizations
- The Jed Foundation: nonprofit with a mission to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for U.S. teens and young adults, including those affected by substance misuse.
- Narcotics Anonymous: support organization with regular local meetings and a 12-step program to recovery.
- Never Alone Club: online Narcotics Anonymous group with daily meetings and 24/7 support.
- Never Use Alone: organization with a mission to provide a life-saving point of contact for people who use drugs, to help increase their odds of surviving an overdose/fentanyl poisoning. Free, 24-hour support at 800-484-3731.
- Partnership to End Addiction: national organization that provides leads for individual support and is dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery.
- Project Lazarus: nonprofit organization that provides training and technical assistance to communities and clinicians addressing prescription medication issues and support for individuals who need help.
- SMART Recovery: Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) provides support meetings for anyone seeking science-based, self-empowered addiction recovery.
Guides, Handbooks and Toolkits
- Decisions in Recovery: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, SAMHSA: handbook with information about medication-assisted treatment.
- How to Safely Dispose of Drugs, Department of Health and Human Services: tips for removing expired or unused prescription drugs from the home and storing medicine away from children.
- Just Think Twice, Drug Enforcement Administration: database of public information about specific drugs and types of drugs.
- Prescription Drug Abuse – Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic: signs, symptoms and causes with information on diagnosis and treatment.
- Prescription Drug Misuse Prevention, Children’s Safety Network: tips and resources related to misuse of prescription drugs among children.
- Rise in Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Impacting Teens, SAMHSA: overview on the impact and outcomes of prescription drug misuse on adolescents.
- Substance Use Disorders in Rural Communities, Rural Health Information Hub Toolkit: module that defines SUDs and explains the need for prevention and treatment programs in rural communities.
- Understanding Substance Abuse and Addiction Disorders, The Jed Foundation: content about the effects on mental health, warning signs and differences between misuse and abuse.
- Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, SAMHSA: confidential and anonymous source of information for persons seeking treatment facilities for substance use/addiction as well as mental health problems.
Articles and Blog Posts
- Misuse of Prescription Drugs: Vital Questions and Answers for Parents, New York State Department of Health: FAQ that addresses how different age groups can be affected and what to do.
- A Pill Problem, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): discussion about how public policy can reduce effects of prescription drug misuse.
- Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse Among Adolescents, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: pillars to effective prescription drug misuse prevention.
- Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse, Institute for Behavior and Health: common classes of controlled substances that are misused and suggestions for addressing the problem.
Podcasts and Videos
- “The Addicted Mind”: podcast that aims to help people find reliable information about addiction treatment and research.
- “Addiction Is a Disease. We Should Treat It Like One,” TED Talk: video presentation by former director of National Drug Control Policy who encourages others to treat people with addictions with kindness.
- “The Addiction Podcast”: series features interviews with recovering addicts and discussions about issues like the changing world of rehab.
- “The Change We Seek: A Podcast from a Prevention Perspective”: series from West Virginia collegiate initiative features episodes on prescription drug misuse.
- ”Responding to the Prescription Misuse Epidemic,” SAMHSA: video webinar from the Preventing Prescription Abuse in the Workplace project that shares helpful prevention programs and resources.
Resources for Family and Friends
- Families Anonymous: 12-step fellowship support program for families and friends of individuals dealing with substance abuse and addiction.
- “The Love Over Addiction Podcast”: episodes aim to reach people who love someone who is experiencing addiction.
- Nar-Anon Family Groups: 12-step support groups, virtual and in-person, for those who are concerned about the addiction problem of someone close to them.
- Parents of Addicted Loved Ones: network of support groups available in-person, online or by phone for parents with an adult child dealing with substance use disorder.
- Recovering Couples Anonymous: fellowship and support for couples recovering from substance misuse.
This article is for informational purposes. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or struggling with mental health issues related to an addiction, reach out to a health or mental health care provider for assistance.