The realities of prescription drug abuse show the dangers of medications when taken inappropriately. Unfortunately, many Americans are battling with dependency on drugs prescribed by physicians. According to DrugFree.org, the average age when prescription drug abuse starts is 21. As new details emerge, addiction research works to identify feasible ways of preventing prescription drug abuse.
Abusing prescription drugs is extremely dangerous. The National Institute on Drug Abuse designates prescription drug abuse as the misuse of prescribed medication either by using not as directed, taking it without a prescription, or taking someone else’s prescription. Misusing prescription medications can result in health issues, financial troubles, career problems, strained relationships, and lead to addiction.
If you or someone you know is battling with prescription drug abuse, it’s important to find help sooner. AspenRidge Recovery provides treatment options for individuals and families. Contact us directly at 855-281-5588.
Realities of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescribed medications are strong and used to treat certain conditions, particularly pain and mental health disorders. One of the reasons that prescriptions are required for certain medications is due to their potency. These medications require oversight and direction provided by an experienced medical professional.
There are three different types of prescription drugs that are commonly misused:
- Opioids – used to relieve pain
- Depressants – used to relieve anxiety or sleep issues
- Stimulants – used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Prescription drug abuse is a public health concern. With ongoing abuse, dependency can set in and with long-term abuse, overdose is likely.
Why Is Prescription Drug Misuse Unsafe?
Any type of substance, regardless of it being illicit or prescribed is dangerous, particularly when used in excess. Medications can carry risks and harmful effects. Medical professionals usually weigh benefits and risks with each patient before prescribing medications and take into account many different factors.
It’s important to note that misuse of prescription drugs can be just as dangerous and lethal as using illicit substances like heroin or meth. Generally, physicians will consider the following factors when prescribing strong medications:
- Personal information: details on weight, other medications prescribed, and other medical conditions are important to consider. Mixing drugs can cause adverse effects and make overdose more likely. Certain drug interactions are known to cause seizures, coma, and even death.
- Dosage and drug intake: Physicians understand the duration for a pill or a capsule to dissolve in the stomach, release chemicals into the bloodstream, and reach the brain. Prescription drugs that are misused are sometimes taken in large amounts or in ways that change the way the drug works in the body and brain, further putting a person at risk for overdose.
- Side effects: Consideration on how the specific drug is designed to address an illness or condition is important. Side effects can worsen when prescription medications are not taken as directed or combined with other substances.
In general, these different factors can impact the outcome of prescribing certain medications, which is why it’s crucial that they are administered by qualified healthcare professionals.
What Happens When Prescriptions Are Misused?
Any medication whether over-the-counter or prescription can be abused. Drugs that contain DXM, for example, which is an ingredient found in cold and cough medicines can produce dangerous effects. Misuse of cough and cold medications is common.
While prescription drugs can help with medical conditions when used as directed, the effects can also be catastrophic when misused. A few side effects to consider include:
Using opioids like oxycodone and codeine can cause you to feel sleep, sick to your stomach, and constipated. With long-term use or in higher doses, opioids can produce feelings of euphoria and increase risks of dependency. In high doses, opioids can also make it hard to breathe properly and can also result in death.
Using stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin can address symptoms of ADHD. Misuse can also cause feelings of paranoia and also increase body temperatures.
Using depressants like barbiturates can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, sleepiness, disorientation, and lack of coordination. Misusing depressants routinely can cause seizures. High doses of depressants can also cause overdose and death, especially when combined with alcohol. Learn more about combining alcohol and benzos here.
Importance of Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse
There are currently drug programs and resources used to help address the ongoing increases in prescription drug abuse. The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Prescription Drug Prevention Plan has four main components:
- Proper Medicine Disposal
Some of the realities of prescription drug abuse surround opioid abuse. Today, about 5% of opioid prescription users — accounting for more than 2 million people — develop an addition. Additionally, more than 75% of prescription opioid abusers receive the drugs from friends, relatives, or other non-medical sources.
A recent poll conducted by National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 70% of prescription pain users do not realize sharing their drug is a felony; only one in five Americans have serious safety concerns about prescription medications like pain killers.
In short, preventing prescription drug abuse can help offset some of these issues.
Following Prescription Direction
To help with preventing prescription drug abuse, it’s important for individuals to follow directions on your medication. This includes:
- Not changing the dosage without consulting your doctor
- Taking steps to understand your medication
- Understanding the effects to expect and which are abnormal
- Not allowing others to use your medication
- Consulting with your doctor about alcohol consumption
- Limiting access to children and teens
- Understand the dangers of prescription abuse
Alternative Treatment Options
In addition to finding better fits with your prescription, it’s also important to consider alternative forms of treatment. If you’re impacted by anxiety, for example, addressing this mental health concern through therapy can lessen the effects of an existing mental disorder and require less medication to treat. If prescription drug abuse becomes a problem, different forms of therapy can also help you address these concerns without turning to substance abuse for relief.
How Can AspenRidge Help Me?
AspenRidge Recovery offers a phased approach to treatment and has a highly reputable and effective program that involves tailored rehab for alcohol and prescription drugs.
AspenRidge is a confidential recovery center located in Colorado. AspenRidge understands the challenges that arise from opioid use. We offer access to self-assessment tools that may provide more clarity on how to address or prevent opioid abuse. These assessments are five to ten minutes in length and they connect you with a specialist who can discuss the assessment results and guide you through recovery steps.
Where Do I Find the Self-Assessments?
The self-assessments are available on the AspenRidge website and results are kept confidential. Please visit the below links for the Online Substance Use and Mental Health Assessment and our Am I Becoming An Alcoholic quiz.
AspenRidge is dedicated to tailoring treatment as much as possible to each client. We provide a safe environment for all who are struggling with opioid addiction to experience long term sobriety.
Prospective clients may contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers to discuss our Prescription Addiction Treatment Program. Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is important and AspenRidge is dedicated to guiding clients and their family through the process towards recovery. Call 855-281-5588.