Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem that many people do not take seriously. Since the medications were originally prescribed by a doctor, a person may feel that the abuse of these medications is different from the abuse of illegal drugs. Addicts to prescription drugs are addicted, in the same way as those who use cocaine, heroin, or other types of illegal drugs are.
A prescription drug addict uses medications for a different purpose than they initially had. He begins to rely on medications to feel better and experience cravings between periods of consumption. The use of prescription drugs continues despite the negative consequences for the user, such as difficulties maintaining relationships, problems at work, or risk of physical harm, demonstrates the user’s addiction.
- 1 What is prescription drug addiction?
What is prescription drug addiction?
Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription drug in a manner not provided by the doctor.
Abuse of prescription drugs or improper use includes everything from taking a prescription pain reliever from a friend for back pain to snorting or injecting ground pills to achieve ecstasy. Drug abuse can become permanent and compulsive, despite the negative consequences.
Addiction to prescription medications is a growing problem that can affect people of any age, but it is more common to use these medications by young people. Prescription drugs that are consumed and abused more frequently are opioid analgesics, sedatives, anti-anxiety medications and stimulants.
Early identification of prescription drug abuse and early intervention can prevent the problem from becoming an addiction.
Signs of abuse and dependence on prescription drugs
Signs of prescription drug addiction are as follows:
- Complaint of inaccurate symptoms for more medications
- Lack of interest in treatment options that do not involve medications
- Humor changes
- Visit several doctors and/or pharmacies to get more medications
- History of drug addiction
- The use of more than the recommended dose or the most frequent use of the medication
- The use of prescription medications for others
Need help? Prescription drug abuse rehabilitation centers are available 24/7 to discuss your treatment options.
Causes of dependence on prescription drugs
Prescription medications are medications that affect the user’s brain in the same way that their illegal counterparts do. When a person who is addicted to prescription drugs uses them, the medication changes the chemistry of the brain, as a consequence the brain is less effective in the production of chemicals such as dopamine or endorphins. Since the brain has stopped producing these chemicals, they need to be obtained from another source. At this point, the prescription drug addict has become physically dependent on the medication.
Older people are especially at risk of addiction to prescription medication, simply because they use medications more frequently than other groups. For example, a doctor may prescribe a tranquilizer after experiencing a traumatic event, such as the death of a close person. The person feels calmer and is able to sleep better with medication, so take it more often than the doctor recommends. When the medication runs out, they return to the doctor for another prescription, and this is how the addiction begins.
The effects of over-prescribed medication use
A person who is addicted to prescription drugs may experience the following:
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in relationships with friends or family members
- Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using the medicine on your own
Some symptoms of prescription drug abuse may also relieve the use of a specific medication. According to its hallucinogenic properties, the most commonly abused prescription medications are:
Opioids/opiates such as oxycodone and those containing hydrocodone, which are used to treat pain and can create the following symptoms :
- Feeling of euphoria
- Slow breathing
- Poor coordination
- Increased pain when taking a higher dose
Anti-anxiety and sedative medications, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), and hypnotics, such as zolpidem (Ambien), which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. The use of these medications may have the following symptoms:
- Walking instability
- Difficulty speaking
- Lack of concentration
- Memory problems
- Slow breathing
Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall XR) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), which are used to treat hyperactivity, attention deficit and some sleep disorders. The symptoms of this category can be:
- Decreased appetite
- High body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
Complications and effects of long-term prescription drug abuse
The most important complication that needs to be taken into account is the interaction of medications. If your doctor or pharmacist is not aware of everything you are taking, they can give you a medication that produces side effects when combined with other prescription medications. Vitamins and natural remedies fall into this category too.
When you consume alcohol with prescription drugs, the combination can produce some unpleasant side effects. If you are taking a sedative or analgesic and drink alcohol, the combination of the two can affect the central nervous system, resulting in distress or respiratory failure and even death.
Abuse of prescription medications and addiction to these medications is a serious problem that requires treatment with the supervision of chemical dependency specialists. Reducing the use of certain prescription medications can lead to serious medical complications, including death. Detoxification of prescription medications should not be attempted at home or without a doctor’s supervision.
Help and treatment for prescription drug addiction
A drug rehabilitation center can help you with treatment for this type of medication with interventions, detoxification, rehabilitation and recovery. Inpatient rehabilitation means that given medications are closely followed, while an addict receives help.