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Prescription Drug AddictionPrescription drugs help relieve pain and cure sickness, but some drugs also lead to prescription drug addiction because of their impact when taken in great quantities or by individuals who are otherwise healthy. Not everyone who takes prescription drugs will become addicted; however, prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths caused by drug overdose have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

More than half of the prescription drug deaths in 2012 were caused by pharmaceuticals, and several types of prescription drugs were involved in those unfortunate overdoses. One of the most common types of drugs in pharmaceutical overdoses is opioid analgesics, which are a type of pain reliever. Other drugs commonly abused include benzodiazepines. People may abuse central nervous system depressants, as well as stimulants that treat conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Drugs that may be abused include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Pentobarbital
  • Amphetamines

Barbiturates used as sedatives are used to control seizures, help people sleep, and reduce feelings of anxiety. However, these drugs are also abused. People who are addicted to barbiturates will usually take more than the recommended dosage, and addiction may cause a variety of physical problems like difficulty breathing. Withdrawal from barbiturates is also severe. Drugs like diazepam, also known as Valium, and Alprazolam, known as Xanax, are two additional examples of sedatives commonly abused.

Prescription drug addiction also commonly stems from the abuse of opioids, which are designed to dull extreme pain, but which also cause euphoria and addiction. Morphine is a type of commonly abused opioid, and while it helps patients deal with incredible pain, it’s also a drug that may lead to overdose when abused. In addition to morphine, another type of abused opioid is called codeine, and people with a legitimate need for prescription drugs may share or sell their prescriptions to addicts.

How Prescription Drugs Are Abused

Any time a person takes a prescription drug in a manner not approved or prescribed by a medical professional, it’s considered prescription drug abuse. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are a variety of methods people may use to abuse drugs that include:

  • Using someone else’s prescription
  • Consuming doses that exceed the recommended amount
  • Taking the medication in a method not condoned by medical professionals
  • Using medication for a purpose it wasn’t meant for (such as getting a high)

Physical Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drugs have a laundry list of side effects, and abusing prescription painkillers may become a deadly activity when recommended dosages are exceeded. The Mayo Clinic shares the signs and symptoms of a person who might be abusing prescription drugs.

Someone abusing opioid painkillers may experience:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Sweating

In addition, opioids may cause a person’s blood pressure to drop, their breathing rate to increase, and they may also impact coordination.

When prescription drug addiction comes from sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs, symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

People abusing anti-anxiety medications may also look unsteady when they walk, use poor judgment, and they may have rapid or involuntary movements of the eyes.

Abuse of stimulants may also cause a variety of unfortunate side effects like:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss

Individuals who choose to abuse stimulants may also develop high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, and insomnia. Stimulants sometimes cause impulsive behavior, which means that someone who is high might make dangerous or life-threatening decisions to get more drugs.

In addition to the many symptoms caused by abuse of prescription painkillers, abusers may also engage in a variety of illegal actions like stealing or forging prescriptions or trying to get prescriptions from more than one medical professional.

Where Abusers Get Their Prescription Drugs

Many people take prescription drugs without becoming addicted, and they serve an important purpose in health care, but research published by The White House suggests many people who become addicted get their drugs from a friend. Young people in particular are very likely to get prescription drugs from a friend instead of from a drug dealer.

In fact, the research suggests a full 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend while only around five percent of those who are addicted go to drug dealers to get their drugs. Getting drugs from the internet is also not nearly as prevalent as getting drugs from friends. With overall prescriptions of drugs increasing significantly in the past several years, the number people with valid prescriptions has made it easier for abusers to find a friend who has a prescription.

All prescription drugs carry the risk of addiction, as well as a variety of side effects. It’s important to understand the risks before taking any prescribed drug. Not all patients or individuals will experience prescription drug addiction, but the effects of addiction may be so severe that professional treatment may become the only way to quit the addiction.

If you need help with prescription drug addiction treatment, please call us for more information.

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