National Addictions Awareness Week
Prescription drug abuse: A serious concern for Portage
Montréal, November 19, 2012 – During National Addictions Awareness Week, which is taking place from November 19 to 25, 2012, Portage is highlighting the growing societal problem of prescription drug abuse.
Prescription drug abuse on the rise
According to a study done by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), “prescription drug misuse is increasing in Canada. Canadians have become the second largest consumers of prescription opioids, according to the International Narcotics Control Board (2010). Additionally, drug overdoses have risen from this increased use, with deaths from oxycodone increasing by 416% between 1999 and 2004.”
Prescription drugs play an important role for those who legitimately need them, but when abused and taken with a cocktail of other drugs, they can cause serious harmful effects to individuals and society.
“More and more people are coming to us addicted to prescription drugs,” says François Bourdon, director of Portage’s addiction rehabilitation centre in Prévost, Québec. “Since 2009, the number of our residents with prescription drug abuse problems has doubled.” Prescription drugs are popular because they are inexpensive and very easy to obtain, he explains.
The downward spiral
Prescription drug abuse is prevalent among adolescent drug abusers, many of whom raid their parents’ medicine cabinets and help themselves to what they find. They may also be given prescriptions by doctors who are unaware that they are abusing other drugs, thus compounding the problem.
“It’s a vicious circle,” explains an adolescent resident at Portage. “You start using speed, ecstasy, GHB, or cocaine to have fun with friends, but eventually the effects of the drugs – anxiety, withdrawal from people, lack of sleep – make you depressed. So you go see a doctor to get meds for depression, and you just make your situation worse by adding prescription drugs to the list of substances you abuse. You don’t tell the doctor the real cause of the depression, so it is not addressed. It’s just made worse as you start to abuse a new type of drug.”
The combination of prescription drugs and other drugs causes adverse and often irreparable effects on individuals. This young resident made it back from her death bed and sought drug rehabilitation treatment at Portage. “At Portage, we don’t just stop using drugs, we learn to live again – we get a fresh start. We uncover the reasons why we started doing drugs in the first place and work to address them.”
Another Portage resident says that his drug abuse made him impulsive and, when he got a prescription for depression and another for persistent back pain, his drug use escalated out of control. “The doses were just no longer enough, so I would lie to get a double dose,” he admits. “Now I’m on methadone to wean myself off all of these drugs.”
More awareness and prevention, along with tighter prescription drug controls to differentiate between those who legitimately need them and those who do not, are needed to address this societal problem that is ravaging communities across the country.
Since it was established in 1970, Portage has helped tens of thousands of people to overcome their substance abuse issues. It provides a variety of services tailored to the needs of its specific clienteles: adults, adolescents, mothers with young children and pregnant women, and people suffering from both drug addiction and mental illness. Portage operates seven substance abuse treatment centres in Québec, in Montréal, Beaconsfield, Prévost, Québec City, and Saint-Malachie. Two other establishments serve the adolescent populations of Ontario and Atlantic Canada.