Marijuana use is becoming more mainstream as lawmakers slowly become more tolerant, instilling pro-marijuana laws. However, hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin still receive negative attention from the media. Drug abuse has been a pivotal part of the political agenda since President Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. However, some of the most dangerous drugs are completely legal and available over the counter or after a visit to a physician.
Drugs that are prescribed to alleviate a medical condition often have very dangerous side effects. For example, antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, and Zoloft have negative side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding, heart disease, and sexual dysfunction. In fact, studies have proven than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, can foster suicidal thoughts. Other drugs, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) inhibits nutrient absorption and decreases the production of stomach acids. This leads to problems like magnesium deficiency, bacterial diarrhea. PPIs like Nexium and Prevacid are proven to increase risk of obesity and pneumonia. In addition to this, statin drugs often increase a patient’s risk of developing diabetes, brain damage, and liver disease. Drugs used to treat diabetes are shown to increase heart disease and bladder cancer while antipsychotics are proven to promote rapid, uncontrollable weight gain. Despite the FDA’s constant effort of warning consumers, serious side effects like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease are common among legal prescription drugs.
Another reason legal drugs are more dangerous than their illicit counterparts is ease of access. In most cases, it is much easier to go to a doctor and obtain a prescription for Xanax than searching for a reliable street dealer to provide said drugs. Many controlled substances are available through a doctor’s notepad and a trip to the pharmacy. In fact, this ease of access gives consumers a false sense of security. If a drug is that easy to obtain, it seems as if it is less harmful. This false notion often leads to abuse and eventually overdose.
As mentioned early, controlled substances like Xanax and hydrocodone are available via prescription. Benzodiazepines and opioid drugs are highly addictive. According to the CDC, more people overdosed on opioid prescriptions than cocaine and heroin combined. Receiving the drugs from a doctor or pharmacists as opposed to a drug dealer makes the drugs seem less dangerous, therefore increasing its abuse potential. In fact, many street dealers cut recreational drugs with filler like lactose or baking soda. Drugs obtained from a pharmacy is unadulterated and a lot more addictive than the product found on the streets. Because of this, users often use more than the recommended dosage and overdose. If highly addictive drugs are available via prescription, drug seekers take advantage of this and abuse the drugs, often using them for therapeutic and recreational purposes.
In conclusion, it is very important to numerate, observe, and heed the risks of both legal and illegal drugs. Most drugs have undesirable side effects and can lead to either psychological or physiological addiction. Several rehabilitation centers are available in each major American city. Help is never too far away. It is important to seek immediate assistance for a potential drug addiction.