Substance abuse is a growing concern as more people are forming this destructive habit. The problem is particularly rampant among teenagers who are finding it easier to get their fix. The most widely abused substance is marijuana, followed by alcohol and prescription drugs.
It should be noted that prescription drugs are generally safe to use when taken in the correct dosage for a limited period as advised by doctors. All medications can induce side effects but these tend to be minimal when the instructions are followed. Health professionals are able to weigh the risks versus the benefits of these drugs for each particular patient and determine the proper course of action.
The problem arises when their instructions are set aside. Patients may end up taking their prescriptions in excess of the safe amounts. People who are not sick may also get these drugs illegally to get their desired effect, either by buying them from underground sources or stealing some from actual patients who use them. Addicted individuals typically start by getting a few pills from friends or relatives without the person’s knowledge.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs include:
1. Opioids — These are things such as Vicodin and OxyContin which are prescribed for moderate to severe pain. They act by attaching themselves to protein receptors in the brain and reducing the perception of pain in the body. Those dealing with chronic pain may develop an addiction to this drug. Opioids can slow down breathing leading to a lack of oxygen in the brain.
2. Depressants — Examples are Valium and Xanax. They are prescribed to people who are suffering from acute anxiety and sleeplessness. The drugs are designed to help patients feel calmer and more relaxed. These allow them to function normally and get enough sleep at night. Taking more than the prescribed amount can lead to a loss in coordination and chronic sleepiness which could be dangerous in certain situations like driving on a highway.
3. Stimulant — On the other extreme, there’s Adderall and Ritalin which are known as potent stimulants. They are meant for people who have trouble concentrating on a task due to Attention Deficit Disorder or ADHD. Excessive use can adversely affect the cardiovascular system. Increased body temperature, paranoia, hostility, and heart failure have been reported.
Follow us for more information and resources on prescription drug abuse and treatment.