Prescription drugs are given to patients to help them with a medical condition and improve their health. However, when doctors prescribe medications for mental health conditions or pain people tend to abuse these drugs. These types of medications are highly addictive and can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when it comes time to stop.
Drug addiction does not discriminate, and people of all ages abuse prescription medications. They take these pills to feel good, experiment or to be accepted by others. Since physicians are prescribing these medications, patients believe they are safer than street drugs and legal. That is not true because people are overdosing and abusing these drugs every day. Here is some information about how doctors are contributing to increased admissions in prescription drug rehab centers.
What is prescription drug addiction?
When someone takes prescription drugs without following the physician’s instructions, that is called prescription drug abuse. If you have ever taken a higher dosage than prescribed or used your medication for another reason, you are abusing your medication. Crushing, snorting or injecting your medication is also considered prescription drug abuse.
Unfortunately, many doctors give strong pain relievers, tranquilizers and sedatives to people because they suffer from mental or medical conditions. Patients suffering from ADHD, anxiety, sleep disorders and depression need medications to help with their symptoms. But instead of using the drugs as prescribed patients are abusing them.
How to identify prescription drug addiction?
Since drugs stimulate the reward system in the brain, it is easy to become addicted. The introduction to drugs, even when prescribed by a doctor, can change the brains chemistry. This change can release the neurotransmitters in the brain that cause drug addiction.
When drugs are taken, they produce an intense euphoria that teaches the brain to seek them out regardless of the consequences. These are some of the signs of prescription drug addiction:
When drugs are taken they produce an intense euphoria that teaches the brain to seek them out regardless of the consequences. These are some of the signs of prescription drug addiction:
• You keep taking the drug longer than prescribed and make excuses to get it.
• Your tolerance is built up for the drug causing you to need more to get high.
• When you stop taking the medication, you become physically ill.
• You become obsessed with the drug and disregard your friends and family.
• When you take prescription drugs, you drink alcohol and other drugs.
The most common abused prescription drugs
Even though prescription drugs are given to patients by physicians, they one of the leading causes of drug abuse. They are abused more than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. More than 46 people die daily from prescription opioid overdoses. Here is a list of the most commonly abused prescription drugs:
Oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone are opioid drugs that inhibit the brain’s capacity to process pain. They target the brain stem and affect your body’s ability to control breathing, sleeping and heart rate. These drugs are highly addictive and cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the user stops taking them.
Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine affect your attention span, energy and can make you more alert. Physicians prescribe them for people diagnosed with ADHD, narcolepsy and depression. They increase the levels of dopamine in your brain, raise blood pressure and elevate the heart rate. When taken other than prescribed, they can cause seizures and irregular heartbeats.
Tranquilizers and sedatives
Xanax, Valium and Librium are central nervous depressants that are prescribed for anxiety, panic attacks and sleep disorders. This medication is also known as barbiturates and benzodiazepines because they make the user sleepy and reduce anxiety. When abused these pills can cause your heart and breathing rate to slow down and lead to seizures.
Many substances abusers mix their prescription medications with alcohol, which can increase the risk of drug interactions. These interactions can include internal bleeding, heart problems and labored breathing. The elderly are becoming more susceptible to prescription drug abuse as well as young women, adolescents and teens.
Although your physician has prescribed medications to you, does not mean you will become addicted. If you take your medication as prescribed, you should not develop an addiction. When you are taking medication, keep your pills in a safe place. Do not share your pills with anyone, including your friends or family. Many people hide their problem with prescription medications, and if you have pills, they will steal them.
If you do find yourself or someone you know dealing with prescription drug addiction, please call us. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 800-737-0933