Addiction to prescription drugs affects all ages from teens to the elderly. While the purpose and method of getting the drugs may differ, the result is the same. The elderly often have chronic pain and may go from one physician to another without full disclosure of all current medications, resulting in overlapping prescriptions.
Addiction to prescription drugs among teens is also on the rise. Some teens have legitimate prescriptions for medications such as Ritalin, while others take drugs from the medicine cabinet of parents or other family members and friends. Another method of obtaining drugs is through prescription forgery. Many pharmacies are part of a nationwide database where pharmacies in the region are alerted to possible fraudulent activity.
What Causes Prescription Drug Abuse?
Many factors relate to the rise in prescription drug abuse. These include:
- The misconception that prescription drugs are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor
- Taking prescription medications outside the scope of recommended dosages
- Giving in to peer pressure to experiment with drugs, such as pain relievers or stimulants prescribed for someone else
- Developing a tolerance to a legitimate medication where the dosage must be continually increased to obtain the same level of benefit
Which Classes of Prescription Drugs Are Abused?
The three major classes of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused are:
- Opioids, such as meperidine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, which are used to relieve diarrhea, coughs and pain
- Central nervous system depressants, such as diazepam, alprazolam, and pentobarbital sodium, which are prescribed for psychological disturbances including panic attacks, anxiety, sleep disorders and tension
- Stimulants, such as methylphenidate and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, which are prescribed to increase brain activity for diseases such as ADHD and narcolepsy
What Are the Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse?
All medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter drugs, carry a long list of side effects, some of which can be severe or life-threatening. When abuse occurs, the possibilities of adverse reactions or conditions are even higher. Opioid abuse has the potential for respiratory failure, coma or death, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Likewise, stimulants, when taken in too high of doses or in combination with some other medications can cause the heart to beat irregularly, too rapidly or go into heart failure.
Break the Prescription Abuse Habit
Give us a toll-free call and speak to one of our counselors about getting treatment for yourself or someone you love who is abusing prescription drugs. The sooner you get help, the better chance you have for reducing the harmful effects on your body and mind. Drug abuse recovery from prescription drugs is just as critical as for alcohol or any other illegal substance.