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PRESCRIPTION DRUG FAQs

PRESCRIPTION DRUG FAQs

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Can prescription drugs cause drug addiction?

Prescription pain reliever misuse is the second most common form of illicit drug use in the United States, with 3.6% of the population misusing pain medication.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Addiction, an estimated 18 million people have misused prescription medications at least once in the past year.  The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated two million Americans misused pain medication, more than one million misused prescription stimulants, and over 1.5 million misused prescription tranquilizers, and over 270,000 misused sedatives.  Prescription drug abuse in the nation varies by age, gender, and other factors, but prescription drugs are addictive because of easy access. Some prescription drugs are more addictive than others, and many of these drugs affect the reward center within your brain.  The effects create a pleasurable high that can motivate you to take the drug again.  

Prescription drugs cause addiction quite easily, and most prescription drug addictions start with the misuse of a prescription that is meant for short-term as-needed use.  Opioids are one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs, and these drugs produce a euphoric effect. The symptoms of misuse include euphoria, lethargy, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, headaches, seizures, nausea, and difficulty breathing.  Some of the commonly abused pain medications include hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, and meperidine. The regular use of any one of these drugs creates dependency leading to difficult withdrawal symptoms. Central nervous system depressants such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines are commonly abused throughout the country.  Some common brand names include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and these drugs cause dependency and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.  

Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are commonly abused, and these products that contain amphetamine are highly addictive and are misused by people from all age groups within the country.  The signs of stimulant abuse include increased energy and alertness, increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, and rapid breathing. Prescription drug abuse, misuse, and addiction is an on-going issue throughout the nation.  When prescription drugs are not taken as directed by the healthcare professional, they become highly addictive. If someone who was prescribed these drugs does not take them as directed, they will grow dependent on them, develop a tolerance for the effects of the drug and become addicted leading to drug-seeking behavior.  

 

Works cited
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-annual-national-report

Can a person become addicted to prescription drugs prescribed by a doctor?

Yes, you can become addicted to prescription drugs prescribed to you by a prescribing doctor.  The most common prescription drugs people become addicted to are prescription opioids, central nervous system depressants, central nervous system stimulants, and prescription sedatives.  There is a dangerous risk of addiction and severe health consequences if these drugs are not taken as directed by a health care professional. Prescription pain reliever misuse was the second most common form of illicit drug use in the United States in 2018.  It was estimated that around 3.6% of the population was misusing pain medication is some way. In 2017 an estimated 18 million people in the United States were abusing prescription medication. Despite these drugs being prescribed for medical purposes, millions of Americans become addicted to them.  The high prevalence of prescription drug misuse varies depending on age, gender, and other factors. The ease of access to these drugs is the leading cause of why someone becomes addicted to them.  

Most prescription narcotics produce a desired effect, such as pain relief, euphoria, dissociation, and a false sense of well-being.  The drugs affect the reward center of the brain producing these enhanced feel-good feelings. The reason these drugs become addictive is because of misuse, which leads to tolerance and dependence.  A tolerance for prescription drugs happens when a person no longer responds to a medication the way they did when they were first prescribed it. It takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same effect as when the first time it was used.  This is common and seen the most with prescription opioids, which is why they are so addictive. This is the reason why someone with an addiction is using more of the drug as their addiction progresses. Most prescription drugs have no ceiling effect, which means the longer you remain on the drug, the more of a tolerance is developed.

Drug dependence means that when a person stops using a particular prescription drug, their body goes through withdrawal.  Withdrawal is a variety of physical and mental symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on many factors, such as the type of drug, the amount taken, and the length of time the drug has been consumed for.  Those individuals who take these prescription drugs for longer than needed will develop a dependency. There is no way around this because your mind and body become accustomed to the foreign substances making it feel good. Drug dependency leads to addiction, which results in drug-seeking behavior and using drugs despite the consequences to your health and social well-being.  Drug addiction becomes worse and does not get better unless the proper treatment is obtained for the addiction. Prescription drug addiction is an ongoing problem throughout the United States, and each year more people seek treatment for prescription drug addiction.        

Works Cited
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-annual-national-report
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/tolerance-dependence-addiction-whats-difference

What are the effects of prescription drug abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is the use of prescription drugs in a way that they were not intended for by the prescribing doctor.  Millions of Americans are addicted to prescription drugs and anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, opioids, and stimulants are misused throughout the nation.  Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem within the country, and the effects of prescription drugs are dangerous and result in thousands of overdose deaths every year.  Most prescription drug overdose deaths are unintentional and involve the combination of more than one drug. There are many reasons why someone becomes addicted to prescription drugs, and the most common is misuse.  The misuse of prescription drugs leads to tolerance for the effects of drugs, causing dependency, which leads to developing drug-seeking behavior or addiction. There are numerous effects of prescription drug abuse, and these are both long-term, and short-term effects.

Most prescription drug users will develop social isolation, and when they become addicted to the drugs they are using, they will often use these drugs alone.  Drugs consume the user physically and emotionally, and you become completely involved in the pursuit of achieving the next great high from prescription drugs. The people around them notice prescription drug users withdrawal from previously enjoyable activities.  There are always rapid mood swings because of how prescription drugs affect brain chemistry replacing naturally occurring hormones with foreign chemicals. Loved ones will start to notice worsening well-being physically and mentally, and this can result in self-harm or harm to other people.  Addiction is the clear effect caused by prescription drug use, and addiction is both physical and psychological. Drug addiction results in crumbling interpersonal relationships and an inability to fulfill responsibilities at work or at home.  

The long-term use of prescription drugs has the potential to result in job loss or even lead to homelessness.  Prescription drug users will have increasing financial troubles, legal problems, and struggle with the consequences of risk-taking behavior.  Each classification of prescription narcotics creates unique effects. For example, the abuse of CNS depressants leads to addiction, respiratory depression, withdrawal symptoms, overdose, seizures, and death.  Prescription opioid abuse causes respiratory depression, hypotension, coma, addiction, overdose, increased risk of contracting diseases through dirty needles, and death. The abuse of CNS stimulants causes addiction, hypertension, cardiovascular complications, heart attack, strokes, seizures, tremors, hallucinations, paranoia, aggression, violence, overdose, and death.  If you are taking prescription drugs for some specific medical reasons, it is essential to follow the exact directions of the prescribing doctor.

What are the common prescription drugs abused in America?

Commonly abused prescription drugs fall into different categories, and some prescription drugs are more widely abused than others.  For example, prescription pain reliever abuse is the second most common form of illicit drug use in the United States as of 2018. In 2017, an estimated 2 million Americans misused prescription pain medication, more than one million abused prescription stimulants, and over 1.5 million misused sedatives or CNS depressants.  Prescription drug abuse is a problem affecting every corner of the nation. Millions of Americans are abusing these drugs, and every day more people are being prescribed these types of drugs. Prescription depressants cause sedation and drowsiness, reduced anxiety, a false sense of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, confusion, and impaired coordination.  More dangerous effects caused by depressants include lowered blood pressure, slowed and shallow breathing, and respiratory depression causing coma or death. 

Depressants include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and sleep medications.  Some of the common brand names are Ambien, Sonata, Ativan, Valium, Xanax, Librium, Amytal, Seconal, and Nembutal.  One of the most common prescription drugs are opioids and morphine derivatives. The effects of pain medication are euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, respiratory depression, tolerance, and addiction.  Some of the common pain medications include codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, meperidine, and oxymorphone. Hydrocodone is the most prescribed pain medication in the United States. Most hydrocodone products are a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.  Acetaminophen causes liver damage with the chemical builds up in the liver which further complicates a drug user’s physical health.  

People of all age groups abuse stimulant prescription drugs, but young adults and teens are the most extensive demographic abusing prescription stimulants.  These drugs create a feeling of exhilaration, increased energy, mental alertness, increased heart rate, blood pressure, weight loss, heart attack, insomnia, and stroke.  Stimulants cause rapid breathing, tremors, loss of coordination, irritability, anxiousness, paranoia, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, and addiction. Some of the common brand names include Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.  Opioids, CNS depressants, and CNS stimulants are the most commonly prescribed prescription drugs and those that are the most frequently abused by Americans. Preventing prescription drug abuse starts with taking the medication as directed, never mixing prescription drugs, and properly disposing of prescriptions.  Most states have unused prescription drug disposal programs operating in communities. Most people who become addicted to prescription drugs get the drugs from someone they know, such as a family member or friend. 

Works Cited
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-annual-national-report
https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rx_drugs_placemat_508c_10052011.pdf

Does prescription drug addiction require complete substance abuse treatment?

The short answer is yes, a prescription drug abuse problem or addiction does require well-rounded and thorough treatment.  However, there are different stages of addiction and dependency, and not one type of rehabilitation works for every addict.  Prescription drugs are designed to treat a variety of various problems and ailments. Pharmaceutical companies have developed a medication to treat almost every type of ailment that someone could experience.  Yet, millions of Americans become addicted to or dependent on prescription drugs because of misuse and easy access. Classes of prescription drugs include opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and stimulants.  The type of treatment that is chosen is based on the severity of the addiction. Across the nation are thousands of drug treatment options for prescription drug addiction. If prescription drug misuse has developed into drug-seeking behavior and addiction, the drug user will want well-rounded treatment.  Furthermore, if the use of prescription drugs has grown into a dependency for the drug, the individual will want medically supervised detox followed by follow up treatment.  

There are many situations in the United States where prescription drug users have become dependent on their prescription, but have not started displaying symptoms of addiction.  The best approach is to work with the prescribing doctor to taper off the medication safely. Medically supervised detox programs throughout the nation routinely help people who are dependent on prescription drugs.  Medical detox is a safe process to help them manage withdrawal pain and control cravings. Some prescription drug users will use other medications such as buprenorphine or suboxone to manage the cravings, but this should not be relied on as the final solution.  The result of treatment should be for the drug user to become ultimately drug-free. A well-rounded approach in this situation is medical detox followed by some form of therapy or aftercare to ensure there are no addictive tendencies. There are often underlying reasons why someone remains on prescription drugs for longer than needed besides tolerance and dependency.  

Chronic drug use, drug-seeking behavior, and drug addiction most certainly require well-rounded, in-depth treatment.  Unfortunately, many addicts are not convinced they need lengthy inpatient treatment and choose short-term or outpatient rehab options.  These treatment approaches are practical and do work, but are often not always enough to treat all aspects of the addiction. Successful methods to address prescription drug addiction include medical detox, long-term inpatient rehab, and lengthy aftercare.  Medical detox is necessary to manage withdrawal pain and stabilize the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Long-term residential treatment offers distraction-free, structured, and safe environments for an addict to dedicate the time they need to treat the addiction.  Long-term treatment is considered a program that would be 60, 90, or 120 days long. Residential long-term treatment does produce better results, but it does take work to convince an addict to commit to treatment. Following drug rehab, aftercare treatment includes sober living homes, peer support groups, or further one-on-one counseling.  Sobriety takes work and time, and the more time you dedicate to your sobriety the easier it becomes to live drug-free.

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