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Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs are some of the most abused substances apart from alcohol and marijuana. This is because of their easy accessibility and affordable price. Prescription drugs are usually administered to individuals who are suffering from a particular disease or would like to reduce pain in their body. However, when prescription drugs are used in other ways apart from those prescribed by a doctor or are used by a person to whom the drugs were not prescribed to, this is called drug abuse. Most addicts of prescription drugs start out innocently but as they use the drugs for long periods, they develop the urge to continue taking them. This kind of addiction is dangerous since most people don't even realize that they are addicted.

Which are the most abused prescription drugs?

Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include opioids/ painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants and central nervous system depressants. Opioids are usually prescribed to treat severe pain. Most commonly abused opioids are hydrocodone, osycodone, proposyphene, meperidine, oxymorphone, diphenoxylate and fentanyl. CNS(central nervous system) depressants are administered for treatment of sleep disorders and anxiety. Examples of abused CNS drugs are Valium, Alprazolam, Pentobarbital, Diazepam, Klonopin, Xanax and Ativan. Stimulants used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy such as Methylpehnidate, Destroamphetamine, Amphetamines, Ritalin and Adderall are also widely abused.

How do you know that you are abusing prescription drugs?

If you are doing any of the following things, then you are definitely abusing prescription drugs.

  1. Taking a larger dose of medicine other than the one prescribed.

    In case you thought that taking larger doses of medicine will speed up your recovery from whatever you are suffering from, well, you're wrong. Taking large doses is actually a form of prescription drug abuse. Taking prescription drugs for longer periods than prescribed is also a form of abuse.
  2. Taking medicine that was prescribed for another person.

    Most people fall culprit to this form of abuse. When a friend or relative has some pain killers or cold medicine, we are quick to give them or receive the drugs from them. You probably didn't know that this is drug abuse. However, as long as the drugs were not prescribed to the person taking them, then it is definitely abuse. As a matter of fact, most teenagers who abuse prescription drugs often receive them for free from a friend or family member so watch out.
  3. Using medicine for any other purpose apart from treatment.

    This occurs in the situation where prescription drugs are used to get high. It is also said that attention deficit drugs improve alertness therefore students start using this drugs in a bid to improve academic performance. This is definitely drug abuse.
  4. Taking medicine in a way that you were not advised to take.

    Most prescription drugs are administered in the form of tablets and are meant to be taken orally. Those who abuse these drugs usually crush the tablets and snort the powder or inject it into their bodies. This is done to hasten the absorption of the drugs into the body thus amplifying its effects.

Dangers and risks associated with prescription drug abuse

Like any other form off drug abuse, prescription drug abuse has a great number of dangers and risks associated with it. First and foremost, prescription drug abuse affects the normal functioning of the body thus bringing about health problems. For example, opioids can cause infertility, slow breathing, decreased cognitive function, choking and changes in the mood. The effects can go as far as causing a comma. CNS depressants have been noted to cause memory problems and even lead to seizures. The use of stimulants triggers paranoia, abnormal heartbeat and increase in body temperature. There is also a high risk of fatal seizures and cardiovascular problems.

There is a high probability that abuse of prescription will lead to addiction. This means that and individual becomes physically dependent on the drugs. Discontinuing the drugs causes a wide range of withdrawal symptoms. Some withdrawal symptoms are very severe and lead to life-threatening situations.

Misusing medication leads to impaired judgement which can interfere with driving and in turn lead a person to cause accidents. This impaired judgement can also make one a victim of crime. Students also end up performing poorly in their academics.

Last but not least, any form of drug abuse is illegal. In case you get caught, it may lead to suspension from school or work, jail time and even payment of fines.

Withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms occur once a person who is addicted to prescription drugs stops taking them. The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from one person to another. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms associated with withdrawal from prescription drug abuse include:

In some cases, the damage inflicted by the drugs can be irreversible. The withdrawal symptoms may also be very hard to deal with.

Prescription drug overdose

Deaths resulting from prescription drugs overdose are the leading cause of injury deaths. As a matter of fact, overdose of antidepressants and opioid causes more deaths than heroin, amphetamines, cocaine and methamphetamine combined. When a person takes an overdose, they should receive medical attention as soon as possible so as to avoid fatal endings.

Recovery process

As we have seen, abuse and addiction of prescription drugs is as serious as addiction to any other drugs, if not worse. This calls for immediate treatment once identified. Recovery from this form of addiction can be done by learning methods of staying away from the drugs, handling relapses in case they occur, dealing with cravings for drugs and avoiding drugs and situations that could lead to the use of drugs. These addictions can also be treated with medication. These pharmacological treatments relieve withdrawal symptoms and help in relieving withdrawal symptoms. A combination of the behavioral approach and the use of medication is the most effective way of treatment. This way, the recovery process becomes much more simple.

Remember, the best way to avoid all these effects is not to abuse drugs in the first place. Stay safe and use prescription drugs for the right purposes only.

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