Prescription Drug Abuse & Treatment Options

Prescription drug abuse has become a serious health issue in the United States. Many individuals begin taking prescription medication and then end up addicted.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse? And How We Can Protect Kids from That?


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People often think it is okay to take drugs when a doctor prescribes drugs; however, prescription drug abuse often begins with a legal prescription for a legitimate medical reason. Taking medication in a manner or dosage outside of the prescribed method is prescription misuse. Prescription drugs are just as if not more dangerous as illegal street drugs. Contact a prescription drug treatment center immediately if you feel yourself beginning to struggle with addiction.

Why Do People Abuse Prescription Medication?

People abuse prescription drugs for different reasons. Some think that taking a higher dose will diminish the pain quicker. Others take prescription drugs to achieve a high, improve their ability to focus and study or lose weight. Prescription drugs are also highly accessible, and almost every medicine cabinet contains prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are also sold illegally like other drugs on the street.

Some people think prescription drugs are safe because a doctor can prescribe them; however, they are not considered safe to take unless your doctor prescribes them directly. A doctor examines each person and considers medical history before prescribing the appropriate dose of medicine for an individual’s medical condition. The doctor has also explained exactly how the medicine should be taken, including things that could have harmful interactions with the drug. The doctor and pharmacy are also aware of the drug’s side effects and provide the patient with the
disclaimer that accompanies their prescription.

Which Prescription Drugs Are Abused Most Often?

Prescription drugs most commonly abused fall into three classes of medications:

1. Opioids

  • Name of Drugs: oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and meperidine (Demerol)
  • Medical uses: Opioids treat moderate to severe pain
  • What they do: Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord), blocking the brain from receiving pain messages.

2. Benzodiazepines

  • Name of Drugs: Phenobarbital (Luminal), diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Medical uses: CNS depressants treat anxiety, tension, panic attacks, and sleep disorders.
  • What they do: Benzos are CNS depressants that cause brain activity to slow down by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter within the brain called GABA. This results in a calm and drowsy effect.

3. Stimulants

  • Name of Drugs: Methylphenidate (Ritalin), methylphenidate (Concerta), amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall) and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)
  • Medical uses: Stimulants treat disorders like narcolepsy and ADHD.
  • What They do: Stimulants increase brain activity, resulting in greater alertness, attention, and energy.

What Are the Risks of Abusing Prescription Pills?

Individuals abusing substances, including prescription pills, are more likely to commit a crime, be involved in an accident, or become victims of a crime. Any drug abuse, including the abuse of prescription drugs, can lead to serious side effects and long-term health risks. For individuals with mental health disorders, the abuse of prescription medicine is even more dangerous. Substance abuse treatment is highly recommended.

Opioid abuse

May result in vomiting, mood swings, reduced cognitive ability, and depressed respiratory function resulting in coma or death. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, over 16,400 people died from an overdose involving prescription opioids. The risk of complication is higher when opioids are taken with other substances like alcohol, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepine abuse

Is also prevalent. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year are affected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder. When an individual abruptly stops or reduces the dosage too quickly, it can cause a seizure. Mixing central nervous system depressants with other medications, such as other prescription pills, some OTC cold meds, allergy meds, or alcohol, can cause a person’s heartbeat and breathing to slow down, sometimes resulting in death.

Stimulant abuse

Usually seen with medications prescribed for ADHD, can cause seizures or heart failure. Any time you mix a stimulant with other meds, even over-the-counter ones, you increase your risk of something terrible. When too much stimulant is consumed, the body’s temperature rises, and the heart begins to beat irregularly. Individuals may also become paranoid or aggressive. The body also begins to rely on the stimulant as its energy source, making it a hard habit to kick. Prescription drugs like Ritalin seem harmless and effective when prescribed for a hyperactive child with an ADHD diagnosis. However that same drug is taken in excess or not as prescribed, such as being injected intravenously or snorted, can lead to Ritalin toxicity which can be extremely dangerous.

One of the most significant risks of taking prescription pills is they can lead to addiction. People who decide to take prescription medications not in the way they were prescribed can become just as quickly addicted as taking drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Doctors are incredibly aware of the risks of taking prescription pills, so they only prescribe a small amount and require a follow-up visit with the patient to ensure they aren’t becoming addicted to the medication. If a doctor feels that a patient is abusing their prescription or becoming addicted, they may recommend checking in to a prescription drug addiction treatment center.

Tips for Taking Prescription Medicine

When a doctor provide Prescription Medication like pain medicine, stimulant, or benzodiazepine, follow the instructions exactly as written. Be sure to:

  • Individual Keep all follow-up appointments with your doctor. Follow-up visits are scheduled to see how you respond to the prescription and see if the dosage needs to be modified.
  • Be conscientious of how the drug makes you feel within the first few days of taking it. Please take note of the efficacy and how it impacts your level of pain. Speak with your doctor about your findings during your first follow-up appointment.
  • Save the information pamphlet your pharmacist attaches to your medicine bag to be aware of any drug interactions or activities you should steer clear of while taking your prescription, like drinking alcohol or operating machinery.
  • Please do not take it upon yourself to decrease or increase the dosage of your prescription without consulting with your doctor’s office first.
  • If you feel addicted or have withdrawal symptoms, ask your doctor about prescription drug rehab centers near you that can help you safely detox from the prescription and provide cognitive behavioral therapy.

Never take someone else’s prescription. And don’t allow anyone to take yours. You are putting others at risk by handing out your prescription. Still, you could suffer consequences: A Pharmacist will not refill a prescription if the medicine has been consumed before the timeframe. If you’re found providing medicine to someone else or having a medication not prescribed to you, it’s considered illegal, and you could find yourself charged with a criminal offense.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Program

Suppose you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to prescription medication. In that case, Avatar Residential Detox Center can provide a prescription drug addiction treatment program to assist with detox, group therapy, treatment planning, behavioral treatment and aftercare planning. We also offer support for family members. Contact us today at (973)-774-7222 to discuss your needs and how we can help.

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