Prescription Drug Addiction
A majority of the population seeks a physician when suffering from an abnormal health condition. Most of the time people are treated and prescribed medications best suitable for the situation. These prescription drugs can prevent, treat, or mitigate the disease or patient condition. Prescription drug abuse or misuse has been prevailing in society for over a long period. It has not only been a definite cause of improper or incomplete cure of the patient’s condition but also produced various side effects that endangered the patient’s life.
A prescription drug is said to be abused when you take drugs for a reason without a prescription from a doctor or you use it even after you have been cured of the relevant disease. These drugs are generally safe when you take them for a short time prescribed by your doctor. These drugs only do help cope with pain, but also trigger feelings of happiness or euphoria.
The Side Effects of Mixing Meloxicam and Alcohol
Abuse of prescription drugs can change brain function. Most people start by taking these drugs as described by the physician. But after some time, these changes affect the self-control and ability to make correct decisions. At the same time, you have intense urges to take more drugs which ultimately make a drug being abused.
Prescription drugs which are used for specific purposes are generally safe for a short time and when used as per doctor’s advice. But these medications may be misused. Prescription drugs can be misused in the following ways:
- By taking the drug for the effect it causes-to get high or euphoria
- By taking the medicine in a way the doctor prescribed
- By taking a higher dose of pills than prescribed
- By taking someone else’s prescribed medicine for similar conditions
Prescription drugs can be abused in different ways depending upon the user’s choice or pleasure, the form of the drug, and the level of addiction. A prescription drug can be abused in the following forms:
- An abused drug can be swallowed in its normal form.
- Some people crush tablets or open capsules, dissolve the powder in little water, and inject this liquid into a vein
- Some people also inhale powder as a drug to get high.
Prescription drug abuse may happen at any age but mostly begins in teens or young age. Prescription drug abuse can be multifactorial with different risk factors aggravating the possibility of prescription drug abuse. The risk factors for prescription drug abuse are as follows:
- Mental health
- Friends or colleagues influence
- Certain pre-existing psychiatric conditions
- Family history
- Learn about prescription drugs and how they can harm you
- Exposure to a social environment where there’s drug use
- Lack of knowledge about these prescription drugs and their side effects
- Prior addictions to other substances, including alcohol and tobacco
- Easier access to prescription drugs, such as present in the home medicine cabinet
Research shows that certain characteristics of your personality increase the likelihood of abuse of prescription drugs. Teens and young individuals abuse prescription drugs due to different reasons. Some of the major causes of prescription drug abuse are listed below:
- To feel excited or get high
- To relax or relieve mental stress
- To reduce appetite
- To increase joy and alert in an individual
- To experiment with the mental effects of the substances
- To maintain an addictive behavior
- Prevention of substance withdrawal
- To be accepted by companions or to be social
- To enhance their concentration and work performance
Prescription drug abuse has different effects depending upon the type of prescription drug abuse, quantity, frequency, and method of use. The major effects produced by prescription drug addiction include:
- Central Nervous System (CNS) Effects
- Mental Health Issues
- Cardiovascular Impacts
- Social Impacts
- Behavioral Changes
- Physical Changes and Impacts
- Psychological Impacts
The detailed effects of prescription drug addiction are discussed in detail in the relevant drug section.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are four major classes of prescription drugs that are often abused, including:
- Painkillers and Opioids
- CNS Depressants
- CNS Stimulants
These medications change the brain chemistry over time and urge the users to misuse them. All these above-mentioned prescription drugs have different purposes, uses, side effects, and misuses as mentioned below:
Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in poppy seeds. Some prescription opioids are naturally extracted from plants, while others are made synthetically in the laboratory using the same chemical structure. They target a chemical in the brain called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA reduces brain activity and causes sleepiness or rest. These drugs can cause a mild joyful feeling for the user.
Tramadol Addiction and Abuse Side Effects
Doctors have been prescribing more opioid painkillers, such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone for decades. The use of opioids and painkillers has been increased because people with rising age and long-term pain need continued use of painkillers and other prescribed drugs. Opioids are good painkillers, and if you follow your doctor’s instructions while taking them, they can improve your quality of life.
How Do Opioids Work?
Opioids bind to GABA receptors in different areas of the spinal cord, brain, and other organs in the body. Opioids bind with those areas that provoke feelings of pain and pleasure. Opioids help in blocking pain signals from the brain towards the body. It releases huge amounts of dopamine in the body. Dopamine-release can greatly increase the effect of the drug, urging the users to repeat this experience.
Prescription Opioids and Abuse
Opioids work as painkillers because they consist of some chemicals that have a relaxing effect on the body and reduces pain. Prescription opioids help in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Opioids can also cause relaxation and arousal, which is why they are sometimes used for non-medical reasons. Some people use opioids illegally by inhaling or injecting them to get results at a faster rate.
During a short-term use of opioids under medical supervision, a user may become dependent on opioids. However, long-term use of opioids can lead to drug abuse or even addiction.
Most Commonly Abused Prescription Painkillers and Opioids
The most widely abused prescription painkillers include:
Prescription Opioids Medication Abuse Symptoms
Deaths due to extreme opioid abuse are common. Overdosing of opioids can also be life-threatening. If opioids are taken along with medications that work on your central nervous system including alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates you have a higher chance of breathing problems or even death.
Opioids can relieve pain and make people relax and happy. However, opioids may have harmful effects, including:
- Decreased breathing rate
- Increased chances of getting diseases like HIV and hepatitis C and CNS effects from injected opioids
Symptoms of Opioid Abuse in Older Adults
Older adults are at higher risk of accidental misuse or abuse of opioids due to multiple prescriptions of chronic diseases. Opioid misuse can cause:
- Slowed breathing or hypoxia, a condition that results when too little oxygen reaches the brain
- The short- and long-term psychological and neurological consequences of hypoxia include coma, irreversible brain damage, or death.
- Increased risk of drug-drug and drug-disease interactions
- Increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV by sharing drug injection equipment or having impaired judgment
Effects of Prescription Opioids Abuse
Prescription opioids abuse can cause various physical, psychological, and behavioral effects in the users. Opioids can cause:
- Difficulty breathing
- Addiction to other drugs
- A desire to commit a crime
- Make a victim of a crime
- Have an accident
A CNS depressant lowers neurotransmission levels to depress or reduce stimulation in various areas of the brain. Doctors use these depressants during anesthesia and prescribe them to treat seizures. Taking CNS inhibitors or depressants for several days or weeks can help you feel calm and sleepy. But over time, you may need a large dose to get the same high or euphoria.
Most Common CNS Depressants
Common Barbiturates and Depressants include:
- Phenobarbital and
Prescription Depressants Abuse Symptoms
Depressants when abused can cause the following changes:
- Extreme confusion or memory loss
- Reduced heart rate
- Lower breathing rate
- Poor judgment
- Blue lips or fingers
- Irritability and aggressive behavior
- Cold skin
Effects of Depressants abuse
Abuse of depressants may cause multiple effects including physical, psychological, or behavioral changes. Drinking alcohol along with drug abuse can cause a slow heartbeat, slow breathing, and death. If you suddenly stop taking CNS depressants for a long time, you may have life-threatening problems such as withdrawal epilepsy. Extreme behaviors of aggression with peers or family can also occur.
Benzodiazepines belong to a class of drugs called tranquilizers or anti-anxiety drugs. These drugs are mostly used to treat a variety of diseases, especially neurological disorders, such as anxiety and panic disorder.
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Use of Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed for the following medical conditions:
- Muscle relaxation
- Alcohol use disorder
Prescription Benzodiazepines Pills and their Abuse
The sedative as well as addictive chemical properties of benzodiazepines, make them a substance for abuse. Despite their calming effects, benzodiazepines are highly addictive drugs. These drugs develop tolerance over time. A person will need a higher volume of benzodiazepines to achieve the familiar euphoria. Benzodiazepines when misused cause a variety of physical, psychological, or behavioral changes that may further complicate the condition of the patient.
List of Common Benzodiazepines
The following is a list of benzodiazepines commonly abused:
Prescription Benzodiazepines Abuse Signs and Symptoms
Some of the physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse are as follows:
- Blurred vision
- Mood changes
- Poor judgment or thinking ability
- Asking friends, family, colleagues, and/or for drugs
- Inability to cut back on the volume of abuse
- Dangerous behavior, such as rash driving after abusing benzodiazepines
- Combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or other addictive drugs
Symptoms of Chronic Abuse
If a person chronically abuses benzodiazepines, the following symptoms may appear:
- Memory loss
Physical and Psychological Changes with Benzodiazepine Abuse
Physical and psychological symptoms associated with benzodiazepines highlight the dangers of benzodiazepines abuse. Benzodiazepine abuse appears with the following physical and psychological symptoms:
- Physical weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Lack of motor coordination
- Poor decision-making power
- Inability to defend oneself during an attack or threat
- Death (rarely when abused alone, a fatal overdose may occur when benzodiazepines are mixed with alcohol)
Behavioral changes with Benzodiazepines Abuse
A sedative drug always shows considerable impacts on the user when abused for the long term. During the time of substance abuse, a person shows a shift into unethical traits. The person stops being in the normal routine of life he used to lead and now spends more time in drug abuse. People who misuse Benzodiazepines may exhibit some or all of the following (partial) behavioral symptoms:
- The person ensures that an adequate supply of drugs is maintained at home
- An increased amount of time and energy is spent on drug abuse
- Shifts in mood or personality can be experienced
- The abuser reduces the efforts to maintain personal hygiene or grooming
- A withdrawal from friends, family, and colleagues to use the drug
- After taking the drug, the person may involve in dangerous activities, such as rash driving
- The person performs unethical activities to pay for the drug, such as stealing, borrowing money, draining bank accounts, or maxing out credit cards
- The person remains secretive about the daily schedule and/or tells lies to protect the substance abuse.
Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects
As mentioned above, benzodiazepine abuse alone does not usually lead to death (although withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening). People who take benzodiazepines with alcohol may find this combination a deadly one.
Withdrawal symptoms appear most of the time when the user abstains or reduces any prescription drug that affects CNS function. Withdrawal symptoms appear when the drug abuse is stopped or the familiar dose is significantly cut down. When the brain does not get its particular dose, because of cutting down of familiar amount, withdrawal is triggered. Withdrawal of benzodiazepines can be dangerous, it can be fatal too as seizures may appear as a withdrawal symptom.
Tolerance to Benzodiazepines
Tolerance is the condition in which the brain becomes increasingly accustomed to the drug after which the person requires more of the drug to get the familiar high. The development tolerance to benzodiazepines is a medical condition, known as physical dependence.
CNS Stimulants belong to a class of drugs that stimulate the brain and enhances different activities of the central nervous system. These nervous system activities involve speeding up both mental and physical processes. These drugs can increase energy, improve attention and alertness, or elevate heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Stimulants can include prescription stimulants as well as illicit stimulants.
Common prescription stimulants include
- Amphetamines (Brands: Adderall, Dyanavel)
- Methylphenidate (Brands: Concerta, Cotempla)
Common illicit stimulants include
How do Stimulants Work?
Stimulants increase certain brain chemicals levels, including norepinephrine and dopamine. Dopamine helps in inducing pleasurable behaviors within the reward circuitry of the brain. Norepinephrine has some physical effects on stimulants. These effects may include changes in:
- respiratory rate
- blood pressure
- body temperature
- heart rate
Stimulants may be misused in the following conditions:
- To feel more alert
- To create feelings of euphoria
- To increase self-confidence
- To boost libido
- To lose weight
- To focus and think more clearly
- To improve performance at school, work, or in sports
Prescription Stimulants and Abuse
Many prescriptions and illicit CNS stimulants are viable to misuse and are highly addictive due to the rush of euphoria and exhilaration they often provide. The misuse of stimulants is of great concern because people of all ages turn to prescription stimulants for their euphoric as well as performance-enhancing effects.
Stimulant abuse occurs when someone takes a prescription drug without a proper prescription, overdoses the prescribed drug, or when they take in illicit stimulants. Whether these drugs are in prescription or illicit, the potential adverse side effects are similar. These side effects include:
- Panic attacks
- Violent behavior
- Elevated body temperature and hyperthermia
- Cardiovascular stresses such as accelerated heart rate and vasoconstriction
Stimulants by nature are addictive due to their impact on the chemical reaction of the brain. A significant increase in the level of dopamine in the brain affects the reward circuit of the brain and improves stimulant use.
Addiction to Prescribed Stimulants:
If the brain of a person is exposed to a specific substance, again and again, this rewarding area ultimately gets used to that specific drug, and a person struggles without it to feel positive effects. This reaction in the reward circuit makes it difficult to stop the use of these stimulants. Moreover, the risk of addiction development increases greatly when these substances produce desired effects more quickly or with greater intensity.
Stimulants Abuse Signs and Symptoms
Stimulants abuse comes with a wide range of signs and symptoms with some of the signs appearing for a short-term while others can stay for longer. The major signs and symptoms can be physical, psychological, or behavioral scenarios. Symptoms associated with stimulant use may include:
- Sudden changes in behavior
- Unable to work at school or office
- Skipping days at school or work
- Noticeable weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Talking more or faster, or rambling
- Keeping isolation from friends or family
- Having more energy than the usual routine
- Decrease in eating and sleeping pattern
- Giving less attention to personal hygiene
- A strange smell on the breath, hair, or clothing
- Using substances in a regular pattern
- Long periods of sleep
- Legal problems because of possession, driving under the influence, theft, or due to violent behavior
- Money problems, such as borrowing, stealing valuables or taking on debt to buy the drugs
Effects of Stimulant Abuse
Stimulant abuse is pinned up with many health and behavioral effects. Some stimulants show side effects after short periods of use, while others may appear after long-term use. The use of stimulants, either short-term or long-term, affects physical or mental health or changes the way a person behaves.
Physical Effects of Stimulant Abuse
Stimulant abuse affects physical health, whether the use or misuse is short- or long-term. Long-term stimulant abuse mostly affects the brain, teeth, and heart. Some of the effects experienced after short-term use include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Decreased appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble breathing
- Itching skin
Physical effects due to chronic abuse of stimulants
The chronic abuse of these stimulants also causes physical effects, including:
- Dangerous increase in blood pressure
- Extreme Weight loss
- Greater risk of hemorrhagic stroke
- Greater risk of heart muscle damage and threatening cardiac events.
- Damage to the lungs due to smoking of stimulants
- Difficulty in sexual performance and even infertility
- Decrease function of the immune system
- Memory issues
- Greater risk of skin infections
- HIV contraction, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases due to unprotective sex and needle sharing
- Meth mouth involving gum disease, severe dental decay, and rapid teeth loss
- Respiratory system inflammation or damage to the nasal mucosa
Overdose of stimulants can lead to extreme seizures, high body temperature, and even sometimes death.
Behavioral Effects of Stimulant Abuse
Stimulant abuse can impact psychological effects on a person’s health both because of short-term or long-term abuse. Chronic use of stimulants can aggravate these effects. These may include:
- An abuser becomes agitated, aggressive, anxious, or hostile
- Inability to sleep
- Impaired ability to think, remember and communicate
- Inappropriate behavior
- Lack of coordination
- Grinding of teeth, jaw clenching, and drinking of beverages having sugar, which is the condition of “meth mouth.”
- Mood swings
- Becoming socially isolated
- Engaging in repetitive behaviors that don’t serve any specific purpose
- Prioritizing stimulant use above everything
- Psychotic behavior including hallucinations and paranoia
- Using until exhaustion
- Risky sexual behavior like promiscuity or not using protection
- Hallucinating “meth mites” and compulsively scratching at your skin, leading to sores
- “Tweaking,” where you may exhibit rapid movements of the eyes, lack of coordination, and fast speech that doesn’t make sense
- Unpredictable behavior
- Violent behavior
Tolerance to stimulants
It is common to develop a tolerance to stimulants, where larger doses of these drugs are needed to get high or feel the same effects that a person is used to. The resulting increase in use needed to overcome this tolerance can place people even more at risk for certain adverse drug effects.
Prescription drug abuse is more common in teens as compared to adults for several reasons. The first and the foremost reason for teenagers to fall victim to prescription drug abuse is their consideration for a drug to be safe as it has been recommended by a physician.
Prescription Drugs Addiction Luxury Treatment and Rehab
Prescription drug abuse is often attractive to teenagers as they fall victim to the misconception of safety and pleasure they get from the drug abuse. Prescription drugs are prescribed by the physician for a genuine reason but when used over a longer period or overdosed, the symptoms of abuse appear and these medications can aggravate serious side effects. Unfortunately, thousands of teenagers every day get access to prescription drugs. This access is creating an addiction problem that is hard to break.
Reasons for Prescription Pills Abuse in Teens
Prescription drug abuse in teens is increasing day by day due to the increasing stress, racial discrimination, and easy access to the prescribed medications. Some of the major reasons for teenagers to abuse prescription drugs are as follows:
- To be active and alert during studies and sports
- To get feelings of high or euphoria
- Friends’ or colleagues’ influence
- Exposure to peer pressure or social discriminations
- Easier access to prescription medication and use
- Lack of knowledge about prescription drugs abuse
- In an attempt to remove pain, pressure, or depression
Medical, as well as psychological treatment, is required to save teens from prescription drug abuse.
What are the most addictive prescription pills?
Some of the most addictive prescription pills currently abused by the users include:
How does prescription drug abuse affect society?
Prescription drug abuse is affecting a high percentage of society with millions of users including both teenagers and adults are being affected by this misuse. An abuser suffers both physically and psychologically. Several behavioral changes that coincide with other effects are the result of prescription drug abuse. Social behaviors and relations are also badly affected by increased prescription drug abuse. Several life-threatening diseases and even deaths can also occur with heavy abuse of prescription pills.
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