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Prescription Drug Abuse

September 07, 2020

When it comes to the risk of prescription drug abuse, everyone is susceptible. Especially common among young people, an estimated 52 million have taken prescription drugs for a nonmedical reason at least once. After marijuana and alcohol, prescription medications are the most abused substances in the U.S.

THE CYCLE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE

People  misuse  prescription  drugs  for  many reasons. Social pressures, stress relief, and the need to be alert for work and school are common motivations. Because these medications activate the  brain’s  reward  center,  you  can  become addicted easily and continue using them despite serious consequences.

COMMONLY ABUSED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND SYMPTOMS

Painkillers

  • Can include opioids, or painkillers, such as oxycodone   (Oxycontin)   and   hydrocodone (Vicodin).
  • Symptoms   of   abuse   include   sweating, confusion,  slowed  breathing,  lower  blood pressure, poor coordination, and depression.
  • A  person  abusing  opioids  is  at  risk  for choking, dangerously low blood pressure and breathing rate, and inducing a coma.

Stimulants
  • Can include Methylphenidate (Ritalin), used to treat ADHD and sleep disorders.
  • Symptoms of abuse include dizziness, poor judgment, rapid eye movement, drowsiness, and imbalance.
  • Abusing stimulants places one at risk for heart   problems,   seizures,   paranoia,   and hallucinations.

Sedatives

  • Can include Alprazolam (Xanax) or Zolpidem (Ambien), which are prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders.
  • Symptoms of sedative abuse include restlessness, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, high blood pressure, irritability, and weight loss.
  • When sedatives are abused, a person is at risk for memory loss. Overdose can lead to a coma or death.

RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES

Prescription drug abuse is highest among young adults; however, older people taking multiple medications are also at risk. Besides physical symptoms, the consequences of  prescription  drug  abuse  are  severe.  Car accidents, criminal actions, illegal drug use, decreased performance at work or school, and relational problems are all common effects of misusing prescription medications. Judgment is often seriously impaired.

ACTION STEPS

✓  Schedule a visit with your primary care provider to discuss treatment options.

✓  Follow primary care provider’s treatment recommendations, which may involve detox.

✓ Consider participating in a recovery or peer support program.

✓ Enlist the support of family and friends and be accountable to them for recovery.

✓ Explore  the  root  causes  of  prescription drug abuse such as when and why it started.

KEEP IN MIND

You’re not alone, and help is available. Consider reaching out to your health care provider and engaging other counseling resources for guidance on next steps.

Want to talk to a counselor today about this? 

Call us at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.




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