Prescription Drugs Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is a big problem in American culture, yet it is still not treated with the seriousness it deserves. More patients are dealing with this form of drug addiction than many of us initially, assume.
The danger with this misconception and poor attitude to awareness is that addicts can fall beneath the cracks. There are around 48 million people in the US on prescription medication.
What percentage are missing and dealing with dependency? This guide on addiction to prescription drugs will break the issue down to help users, and family members better understand it.
What Is Drug Addiction?
There is a big difference between a need for ongoing medication for a condition and drug dependency. Most patients can take their recommended course for the required length of time and stop using the drugs when they are better.
Others cannot give them up because of the impact the drugs have on their mood, hormone levels, and pain. Over time, some may see changes in the structure of their brain which forces a reliance on these drugs.
Users actively seek out the drugs on impulse to continue to feel these feelings. By this point, prescriptions and medical conditions mean tiny.
We tend to think of hard drugs and illegal substances when we think of addiction. However, there are plenty of substances that cause these neurological changes and impulses. It happens with alcohol, caffeine, sugar and also prescribed medication. The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall into three categories:
- Opioids (painkillers)
- CNS depressants and tranquilizers (sleeping pills and anxiety medication)
- Stimulants (ADHD medication)
Opioids used for chronic pain issues, such as codeine and morphine. They help to manage pain and improve many chronic conditions. At the same time, these drugs can also lead to a sense of euphoria.
This combination means that it is easy to develop a dependency. The problem is that there are also adverse drug side effects with a reliance on opioids. Use of opioids with CNS depressants or alcohol can lead to respiratory depression. Opioids should also never used with barbiturates, antihistamines or general anesthetics.
CNS depressants are the go-to option for many Americans dealing with anxiety, sleeping disorders, and other stressful conditions. Their use is increasing as society evolves.
The problem is that these short-term solutions used more frequently, and users can quick fall into the trap of dependency. There is a problem of diminishing returns as the body gets used to the drugs.
This leads to a desire to take more to get the required effect. Users should avoid alcohol, pain medication, and OTC cold remedies.
Stimulants are used to improve attention spans, focus and add a little energy. They are a great tool for children that are struggling to deal with ADHD in the classroom. These drugs are effective when used in the right capacity at the right dosage.
The problem comes with using these prescription medicinal products in an unlimited capacity. Students take the pills as performance aids and can quickly develop dependency issues. Stimulants should not use with antidepressants or some asthma medication.
Identifying Prescription Drug Abuse
Drug addicts are most easily identified by some drugs they are taking. Drug side effects are indicators, but at this point, it may be too late. Users that take larger dosages for other reasons may be making up reasons to take the drugs.
The problem is that this can hides. Taking a new opioid for a headache is a bad sign, as is sleeping pills use when insomnia cure. Anyone that doesn’t follow the guidelines increases a dosage without permission or misuses the drugs for greater effect is dependent.
Doctors can spot these signs when patients come in for extra refills or want to up their dosage. Pharmacists may receive modified forms or multiple forms from different doctors.
In some cases, patients won’t realize their dependency if they believe they are taking legal drugs for a real condition. The truth comes when the course of medication ends.
Why Is Prescription Drug Abuse Increasing, Yet Going Unseen?
The simple answer here is availability. Prescription drugs can easily obtain from these medical conditions and doctors admit to writing out more clips than ever before. Prescribing drugs is the quick fix solution to many conditions.
This is the starting point for prolonged use, which leads to changes in neurological function and finally dependency. These prescriptions can abuse or refill too often by patients.
Then there is the issue of people stealing the medication or selling it on. It is easy to ask why this happens so quickly when so many prescriptions are filled, yet the issue is still rarely seen.
So why does drug addiction affect some people and not others? Some people are simply more predisposes to addiction than others. Drug side effects can take hold more strongly depending on a range of factors:
- The family history of addiction
- Mental health
- Social environment
What Can Be Done To Treat Addiction For Prescription Drug Abuse?
The problem of dependency can often be a vicious cycle that is hard to break. This is even truer when the problem hides from friends and family. Addicts need a strong support system and a treatment program that suits their needs.
Withdrawal from prescription drugs can be painful. In the case of CNS depressant users, it can even be quite dangerous. Switching to non-addictive options can lessen the blow.
At the same time, it can help to talk through the issues, either with a support group or a therapist. Doctors can refer patients to outreach programs.
Prescription drug dependency is a major issue that is set to get worse before it gets better. A number of prescriptions filled is rising, and it is too easy to obtain and misuse these pills.
It is important that patients and relatives understand the risks of drug side effects and the signs of addiction. The sooner that the problem is revealed, the easier it is to get help and avoid lasting damage.