The human body is delicate and thus may suffer from multiple problems if subjected to forces that it cannot handle. For example, the impact caused by the collision of two vehicles can cause a lot of injury to the passengers or pedestrians. Many have died from such incidents, others have become paralyzed and quite a number have suffered from wounds that cause too much pain.
If you are among the victims that suffer from pain due to the injuries incurred, the doctors may analyze your pain to know the right medication to give you. In case your pain is chronic, they are likely to prescribe prescription drugs such as pain killers, which reduce your agony. As a result, you are able to continue with your daily activities.
Prescription medication is not only associated with pain but also other issues that your body may suffer from. Doctors provide an exact prescription to follow since they know the exact impact of the drugs upon your issues. If well taken, there is a very high possibility that your health issues will eventually fade away, allowing you to live your life as usual.
What are Prescription Drugs?
Prescription drugs are medicines comprising of pharmaceutical drugs that are legally dispensed after medical prescription. They are different from over-the-counter drugs because the latter do not require prescriptions for you to obtain them. This strict control is due to avoidance of misuse or abuse of the drugs.
During prescription, doctors use the abbreviations ‘Rx’ to indicate that the medication comprises of prescription drugs. They are often accompanied by a monograph containing information regarding the medicine. This information includes warnings about the side effects to expect upon consumption and the mode and dosage to consume at given times.
Since the 1960’s, areas such as the United States have increasingly used prescription drugs to treat multiple problems. As a result, eighty-eight percent of the older adults aged between 62 and 85 years manage through old age issues using at least one prescription drug. Another thirty-six percent of this group is likely to consume about five of such medicines concurrently.
Types Of Prescription Drugs
Prescription medication is classified into three groups. They include opioids, stimulants and sedatives.
Opioids refer to prescription pain killers, which are effective in the treatment of chronic or severe pain. They function by mimicking the natural pain relieving chemicals present in your body. They attach themselves to the brain receptors thus blocking the pain perception.
Doctors have prescribed opioid medication since the early years of the last decade of the twentieth century. This tendency has increased since then due to the wide spread of severe pain and the aging population. These pain relievers are known to improve people’s lives due to the reduction of their agony, when taken according to the doctor’s instructions.
It is advisable to take them for a short period, since long-term consumption could cause physical dependency and addiction due to abuse. You should also be careful to avoid an overdose since it is life threatening. Additionally, consuming opioids with central nervous system depressants could be fatal since you may experience respiratory depression or death.
Opioids may cause you to experience nausea, slow breathing, drowsiness and constipation. Moreover, they induce euphoria hence cause some pleasure. Some of the opioid medications include oxycodone, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone and fentanyl.
Sedatives are also known as tranquilizers, central nervous system depressants or anti-anxiety medications. They are quite effective in the treatment of sleep disorders, panic attacks as well as anxiety. The majority of the prescribed sedatives include benzodiazepines and barbiturates since they slow the brain functionality, thus producing a calming or drowsy effect.
Benzodiazepines function by depressing the central nervous system. They do so by affecting the functionality of your brain’s neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA’s function is to lower your brains activity. These medicines are best at treating insomnia and anxiety.
Similarly, barbiturates such as pentobarbital, amobarbital, secobarbital and phenobarbital depress the central nervous system. Due to this effect, these medicines are best at treating seizures and are also used for anesthesia
Consumption of sedatives for several days to few weeks is helpful in keeping you calm and sleepy. However, if you must consume for longer periods your dosage may have to be increased to acquire the same effects. This concludes that tranquilizers can be easily abused.
Mixing these depressants with other CNS depressants like alcohol could be detrimental since they can slow your breathing and heart rate and eventually cause death. What’s more, stopping their consumption abruptly after long-term consumption cause withdrawal symptoms like seizures, which could be life threatening.
Other prescribed anti-anxiety medications that doctors prescribe include Valium, Xanax and hypnotics.
If you suffer from issues such as depression, narcolepsy or attention deficit disorder, it is likely that doctors will prescribe stimulants to treat you. However, after their discovery, doctors used them to treat obesity and asthma. These prescription medications functions by jump-starting your body very fast thus cause an increase in attention, alertness and energy.
Stimulants achieve these actions by enhancing the dopamine and norepinephrine effects in the brain and increasing blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure. They further constrict the blood vessels and cause the opening of the respiratory system pathways. In the process, they often cause euphoria.
Stimulants are safe if consumed according to the doctors’ orders. However, due to their euphoric affects they are highly abused by a majority of the consumers, who take high doses or crush the pills. Such misuse eventually leads to addiction if not controlled.
Additionally, combining these prescription medicines with decongestants may result to irregular heart rhythms, while high doses result to an increase in body temperatures. The most prescribed stimulants include lisdexamfetamine, dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate and the amphetamine and dextroamphetamine combination.
Prescription Drugs Problems
Despite that prescription drugs are meant to treat and ease up your life, they are also accompanied by some problems that depend on your consumption. From the above information, it is evident that some of the drugs cause some euphoric effects, require higher doses as time proceeds, cause other effects when combined with some depressants or have other effects if consumed differently.
The problems that arise from all these factors are prescription drug abuse or misuse and addiction. These issues also arise because people want to consume these prescription medications even when they are not ill. Such habits are common among the teenagers.
For example, a majority of the teenagers in high school or young adults in college like to get high, whether they have classes or not. As a result, they may steal drugs from the adult medicine cabinets. What’s worse is they are known to hold “prescription parties” where they combine the stolen drugs and consume any that seem appealing. In worse cases, they mix with other drugs like marijuana and alcohol, which explains the rise in emergency cases at the hospitals.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse
According to multiple studies, cases of prescription drug abuse seem to surpass those of cocaine, alcohol, marijuana and heroin abuse in recent times. Consequently, there has been an increase in deaths, especially between 1999 and 2010, due to these tendencies in the United States.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is convince that the majority of the abusers are aged twelve years and above and total up to about forty-eight million, which is equivalent to approximately 20 % of America’s population.
Prescription drug abuse refers to the consumption of prescription medicines in ways that prescribing doctors did to intend. This encompasses a lot of activities, like consuming another person’s prescription, crashing the pills, mixing with other drugs such as alcohol and injecting or snorting pills to get the euphoric effects.
This habit is not only common among the young people but also among the older generation. They all prefer to self-medicate themselves, or acquire the drug effects without considering the health and life consequences that could arise from their radical behaviors.
Reasons For Abuse
Despite that the access to prescription drugs access is controlled, you will still find reasons and means to access them if you’re an abuser. The following are some of the multiple reasons for abusing prescription medications.
- You desire to get high or feel good
- You have some tension and thus will access them to relax
- You just want to experiment
- You are under peer pressure and just want to be social and accepted among your peers
- The social norms seem be against overweight people as thus want to reduce your weight by reducing your appetite
- You believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs
- You believe that prescription drugs are legal and thus will not suffer from charges associated with drug abuse
- You are trying to divert your cravings since you are addicted to other illegal drugs
- You wish to escape withdrawal symptoms
- You want to increase your alertness and concentration for the sake of your work or academic performance.
The fact that prescription drug abuse has become rampant in recent times does not necessarily mean that all abusers wish to indulge. Others just have situations that drive them into the act and realize when the damage has already been done. Those that escape abusing count themselves lucky because they were at the verge of doing so.
Therefore, the following are some of the risk factors that could cause prescription drug abuse.
- Present or past substance addictions
- Family history that includes substance abuse problems
- Access to the drugs at younger ages
- The existence of psychiatric conditions
- Lack of sufficient knowledge regarding prescription medication. Especially the potential harm
- Exposure to a social environment or peer pressure that seems to encourage drug abuse
- Uncontrolled access to the medications
Signs And Symptoms Of Abuse
As a prescription drug abuser, you will hardly choose which drugs to misuse at a certain time. Therefore, there are high chances that you will abuse all the categories; stimulants, opioids and sedatives. As a result of your regular drug misuse tendencies, your behaviors will change to suit this hobby.
Behavioral signs and symptoms
Among the behavioral signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse are the following:
- Forging, borrowing or stealing of prescriptions from co-workers, family or friends
- Consequently, loss of prescriptions thus regular replacements
- Breaking or crushing the pills
- More frequent visits to the physicians to request refill
- Faster or higher consumption of the drugs than indicated
- Multiple visits to different doctors for the same health issues
- Inconsistent answers to queries regarding your prescription usage
- Accessing the prescription medications by ordering over the internet
Opioid abuse signs and symptoms
- Euphoria, feeling high
- Slowed breathing rate
- Increased pain as dose increases
- Poor coordination
Sedative medication abuse signs and symptoms
- Unsteady walking
- Poor concentration
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- Slowed breathing
Stimulants abuse signs and symptoms
- Reduced appetite
- High body temperature
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
The misuse of prescription medication eventually leads to serious health issues that could affect your life for a lengthy period of time. These health effects differ according to the type of drug abused as dictated below.
- Opioids – the slow breathing rate caused by the wrong use of opioids could cause your breathing to stop. You may suffer from low blood pressure or end up in a coma. Additionally, taking on overdose of any of the drugs could lead to death.
- Anti-anxiety medication– as mentioned above, slowed breathing can result from anti-anxiety medication abuse. It is accompanied by low blood pressure and memory issues. If you overdose on these drugs, you risk landing into a coma or losing your life.
What’s worse, you cannot stop abusing the drugs at once after doing so for lengthy period, just because you realized your mistake. The process should be gradual because abrupt action can cause withdrawal symptoms like seizures and nervous system hyperactivity.
- Stimulants– stimulants as well will take a toll on your health after wrong usage. They cause dangerous high blood pressure and body temperatures, aggressiveness, heart problems, paranoia, and tremors or seizures.
What is Prescription Drug Addiction?
Stimulants, opioids and sedatives are highly addictive since they function by activating the reward center of the brain. Therefore, misusing the prescription drugs for a lengthy period could cause the brain to adapt to the actions that are induced in it.
As a result, the body will also adapt to the effects that the drugs cause. Consequently, you will develop a physical dependence that later graduates to addiction. If you reach the physical dependence part, it means that your body has developed a tolerance for the prescription drugs.
Therefore, you often have to increase your dosage to attain the same intensity of drug effects that you desire. At the same time, reducing the dosage or stopping consumption abruptly causes you to experience withdrawal symptoms.
If this physical dependence continues, you eventually become addicted to the prescription drugs. At this stage you can hardly survive without the drugs because your body’s functionality is dependent on it. What’s more, you become more vigilant and aggressive in ensuring that you have ample supply of the medications.
As you go deeper into prescription drug addiction, your behavior patterns continue to change as well. The following are some of the signs of these drugs’ addiction:
- You tend to experience mood swings, which correspond to the absence or availability of the prescription drugs
- You may consume more of alcohol as time goes by
- Your sleep patterns begin to change
- Due to the unavailability of the prescription drugs, you become increasingly irritable.
The symptoms of prescription drugs addiction are dependent upon the type abused. Therefore, the following are some of the symptoms that you could experience, according to the respective drugs.
- Difficulties with your memory
- Intoxicated and drowsy appearance
- Unsteady mannerisms or movements
- Confusions about time or surroundings
- Poor decision-making due to poor judgment
- Rapid and involuntary eye movement
- Involuntary movements, gestures or tics
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increasing hostility
- Extreme irritability and agitation
- Cardiovascular failure
- High blood pressure
- Paranoia feelings
- Unexplained weight loss and elevated body temperatures
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion and disorientation in familiar surroundings
- Constipation as well as other digestive irregularities
- Rapid decrease in blood pressure
Due to all the above signs and symptoms of prescription drugs addiction, you are likely to experience more problems. Among such issues include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Trouble relationships
- Usage of illegal drugs
- Decreased work or academic performance
- Involvement in criminal activities
- Engagement in risky behaviors
Treatment And Recovery
Prescription drug addiction is like a chronic disease, and hence is treatable. All that is required of you is to acknowledge that you have an addiction problem, so that you can accept professional help. It is not advisable to quit abusing the drugs on you own, a process also called cold turkey, since some of the withdrawal symptoms could claim your life.
Asking for professional help from a rehabilitation center is the best approach to use. You can begin by investigating the multiple facilities around you. Factors to consider are the quality of services and care, the financial requirements and the modes of payment.
Throughout the detoxification process, you need to have perseverance since you can easily give up and relapse. Instead, have determination, focus and have the strength to take each day as it comes. Luckily, the professionals around you may ease your withdrawal symptoms using some medications.
For example, if you are addicted to opiates, doctors may prescribe several doses of buprenorphine and naloxone, which also help you in preventing a relapse. Other treatments may include methadone, clonidine and naltrexone.
Treatment does not end after leaving the rehab facility but goes on for a lifetime. Therefore, you should adopt healthy habits to keep your thoughts away from the drugs and thus avoid relapsing. The healthiest habits are such as meditation, regular exercises, nutrition and creation of boundaries to reduce stress.
Prevention of Abuse and Addiction
Quite a number of the prescription drugs abusers do not wish to do so, but end up in these situations unwillingly. If you are among those that have to consume the drugs to treat conditions in your body, here are some tips on to avoid abusing the medications.
- Ensure that your medication is right by giving your doctor all information about you, including substance abuse like alcohol.
- Have regular doctor checkups to ensure that your medication is working at the right doses
- Follow instructions by consuming the drugs as directed and should not stop or change your consumption unless under your doctor’s supervision
- Understand your drugs by knowing how it helps your body or condition
- Avoid using other people’s prescriptions.
- Avoid ordering the drugs online, unless the pharmacy is legitimate and trustworthy.
Prevention Among The Teenagers
Keeping teenagers away from prescription drug abuse is a hefty task. However, if you are a parent that consumes these medications, it is your responsibility to ensure that your teen does not abuse them without your knowledge.
- You should have open discussions about drug abuse and its consequences. These talks will inform your child on the dangers since some view these drugs as just pills that make people high while treating issues.
- If your child uses the medications for valid reasons, you should set rules that prohibit sharing the drugs with others.
- Remember to keep you prescription medications away from their reach
- Monitor your teen’s activities online, to ensure that they do not purchase form fraudulent pharmacies
- Remembers to dispose the medications properly
In conclusion, prescription medications are meant to help where you have health challenges. The part about abusing and getting addicted is in your control. You must be aware that these drugs are addictive and thus be careful while consuming them by following the doctors’ instructions.
If you feel that they seem to be controlling you, which means building up a tolerance that tempts you to consume more doses, it is advisable to reach your doctor for help. Otherwise, falling into temptation could lead you down a dangerous path that could end in death or misery.