According to a new analysis by Quest Diagnostics, the majority of Americans are misusing their prescription drugs. Researchers went through test results and flagged inconsistencies. They found that many people took irregular doses (such as skipping doses or taking a larger dose than the patient was supposed to), took medicines they didn’t have prescriptions for, and/or combined medicines.
Although fewer people misused drugs overall, compared to past studies (54 percent in 2015 versus 63 percent in 2011), there were more people taking drugs together. Almost half (45 percent) of the tests indicating misuse showed that patients mixed medicines. Combining drugs is potentially dangerous because ingredients can interact with each other in deadly ways. Certain combinations can lead to coma and death. Mixing even tiny doses can lead to hazardous interactions, depending on what’s used.
The analysis did discover that prescription drug abuse has sharply dropped among children, especially those between the ages of 10 and 17. Stimulants were associated with the most inconsistent results, and in most cases, these were ADHD drugs. Quest Diagnostics believes the reduction in drug abuse may be due to more oversight by parents. For older patients, benzodiazepines and opiates showed the most inconsistencies. Patients with hepatitis C were the most likely to have taken additional nonprescription drugs (66 percent versus 51 percent), especially painkillers and heroin.
If you personally plan to use two or more types of prescription drugs in the same day, or even the same week, it’s important to talk to your doctor. There’s always a chance of unforeseen reactions, even among prescription drugs that may seem innocuous. Only a medical professional can verify that what you want to do is safe. If you might have an issue with drug abuse, a doctor may be able to refer you to an organization that wants to help.