Pill Problem: Prescription for Addiction

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By Adam Jones & Erin Donnelly

Go to Any College Campus USA on the weekend, and you expect to find a party held at someone’s over-priced “off-campus” housing. There’s an abundance of cheap liquor, and even cheaper beer. Someone’s passed out in the bushes, there’s a frat boy trying to maintain balance while he flirts with a disinterested girl, and scattered here and there are either people way too young to be there, or way too old to be there.

Alcohol is part of the undergrad experience, but what about the use and abuse of prescription medications?

Due to an increasingly competitive economy, college students and other adults in the 18 – 24 age group are turning to prescription medications to cope with stress and their workloads. According to this report by SAMSHA, people in the 18 – 25 age group are more likely to abuse prescription drugs.

The prescription drugs abused by college students most often fall into the category of amphetamines, opiates, and benzodiazepines.


Aaron, 20, pays rent, has a full time job, and enjoys cooking and playing guitar. For over two years, that life would have seemed impossible due to his addiction to prescription drugs.

Aaron dealt with the consequences of his addiction and managed to refocus his life. However, this confrontation with addiction is not the outcome for many addicts.



It’s easy to forget that behind each number is a person and a family. It’s easy to forget that 1,741 families have lost a loved one to prescription addiction. This addiction is a prominent issue in the United States and does not show any signs of stopping. The over-prescription of medication not only directly affects those prescribed the medication, but it allows those drugs to become more available to non-medical users.

Since every person is different and may respond differently to treatment options, there are many different approaches to controlling prescription drug addiction. Grand Valley State University tends to approach the issue from an educational standpoint. A Grand Valley State University campus counselor, Bonnie Dykstra stated, “The goal is to educate students on how to handle stress and anxiety so that they do not feel the need to abuse these prescription medications.” This education comes in the form of group substance abuse counseling, lectures at freshman orientation, and educational materials posted on campus. Education is the best step in prevention due to the lack of ability to easily see addiction taking place. Grand Valley State University police officer Edward Barnes weighed in on the issue stating, “It is hard to control these substances. We try our best to keep an eye out for drug abuse but usually if we are involved it means it’s too late. The individual is already addicted.”

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in the United States, especially on college campuses where the stress and workload for students require much time, focus, and energy on a daily basis. Solving this problem requires education, a less stressful work or classroom environment for young people, and an overall reduction in the prescription of these drugs.



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