Prescription drugs are the third most likely drugs to be abused. Sometimes people don’t intend to abuse their medication. Many times, it happens because of the addictive nature of certain prescription drugs. Learn more about prescription drug abuse, how to detect it and the risks.
What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?
People abuse prescription drugs when they use prescription medications in ways that their doctors don’t intend. This might include taking a higher dose than their doctors prescribed or taking other people’s medications. Some people even crush prescription pills to snort or dilute and inject.
The misuse of prescription meds is an increasing problem that affects people of all ages. However, it happens more often among teens and young adults.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half of teenagers and young adults who use drugs for the first time started with a prescription drug. Although most teens use only one prescription drug at a time and misuse it by taking more than they’re supposed to or mixing it with other substances, about 1 in 20 will try three or more drugs at the same time.
The most commonly misused medications are opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are also frequently misused. These drugs can create a sense of euphoria or make users feel more alert or energetic, which is why they’re popular with kids and young adults.
Prescription Drugs That People Abuse Most
There are three types of prescriptions that people abuse more than others. These include opioids, depressants, and stimulants. Opioids are strong drugs that doctors prescribe to relieve pain, while stimulants treat ADHD. Sedatives and tranquilizers are drugs that treat anxiety and sleep disorders. All of these categories have addictive properties, and people often take them without a prescription.
People abuse opioids most often because they produce euphoria. Doctors prescribe them for pain, but patients become addicted and keep taking them. Opioids include an ingredient in heroin and it is also made from poppies. Some examples of opioid drugs are oxycodone and methadone.
Signs and Symptoms
Each type of prescription drug has different signs of abuse. Prescription opioids can cause confusion, constipation, drowsiness, euphoria, nausea, poor coordination and slow breathing. Sedatives and tranquilizers can cause similar symptoms as well as poor concentration, memory problems and slurred speech. Stimulants can cause agitation, anxiety, high blood pressure and temperature, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, lack of appetite and paranoia.
People who abuse prescription drugs might also become more hostile than normal or have extreme mood swings. They may also make poor decisions. To maintain the habit, some pretend to lose prescriptions so that their doctors will write more. Individuals may also go to multiple doctors to get prescriptions.
There are serious health risks related to prescription drug abuse. Taking too much of an opioid can put people into comas or stop their breathing. People who suddenly stop taking depressants may suffer seizures during withdrawal. Stimulant abuse can cause delusions, heart problems and seizures.
Risk of Physical Dependence and Addiction
These prescription drugs activate the reward center in the brain. This is what makes them addictive and can cause physical dependence.
Physical dependence is the response of the body to long-term use. When this develops, users need higher doses of the drug to get the same effects. Those with a physical dependence generally go through withdrawal when they try to reduce their dose or stop using.
People with a physical dependence can also develop an addiction. Drug addiction makes them seek and use drugs even though it’s dangerous. They might keep using even if it’s hurting their relationships and ruining other parts of their lives.
Prescription drug abuse can also lead to consequences that the users don’t foresee. Frequently, opioid drug abuse leads to heroin addiction. Grades and work performance also tend to decline.
Users often engage in risky behavior as well because they have poor judgment while under the influence. This can lead to car accidents and a higher chance for committing crimes.
Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment at Crestview Recovery
Prescription drug addiction is a disease for which people can get treatment. However, no one type of treatment works for every person. This is why Crestview Recovery offers partial hospitalization and outpatient programs for all types of addiction. Our multilevel programs include:
- Access to a gym and activities
- Art therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual and group counseling
Don’t let prescription drug abuse or addiction remain in control and destroy your life. You can overcome it with prescription drug rehab at Crestview Recovery in Portland, Oregon. Contact us now at 866.262.0531 for more information about how we can set you on the path to recovery.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.