Prescription drug abuse involves the use of prescription drugs in a manner other than what has been prescribed, or for non-medical reasons. Here are some facts on the abuse of such drugs.
Prescription drugs are the medicines that can be purchased, only if you have the written instructions from a doctor. The use of such drugs for non-medical reasons or recreational purposes is a matter of serious concern. The main problem with this kind of abuse is that it is more dominant among teenagers. Self-medication or taking the drug in doses that are higher than what has been prescribed is also another serious issue. This can give rise to an addiction, which might have an adverse effect on one’s health.
Abuse of Prescription Medicines
Let us begin with a bit of history. This practice can be ascribed to be as old as the use of medications for the treatment of various kinds of disorders or illnesses. However, it was in the 19th century, when drug abuse began with the abuse of morphine, laudanum, and cocaine. The abuse of painkillers, sedatives for anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is rampant.
The symptoms depend upon the type of drug that is being abused. According to what experts have been able to identify, there are three classes of prescription drugs that are commonly abused by people, especially teenagers. Here’s the list of the commonly abused drugs and their corresponding effects.
Abuse of opioid painkillers may result in:
- Psychological condition like depression, confusion, etc.
- Digestive disorder like constipation
- Hypotension (also known as low blood pressure)
- Fluctuations in the respiration rate
Sedatives and Tranquilizers
Common side effects in this case may include:
- Psychological symptoms like confusion, impaired judgment, etc.
- Gait becomes somewhat unsteady
When stimulants are abused, the person may suffer from:
- Poor sleep
- Irregularity in the pulse
- Unintended weight loss
- Increased agitation for no apparent reason
Other Side Effects
Here are some side effects, which are common for other kinds of prescription drugs
- Mood swings (intense than normal)
- Lack of sleep or sleepiness
- Inability to make rational decisions
- Constant feeling of being high (this, however, would be noticed by the people close to the user)
- The user tries to get the drug prescribed by multiple doctors
- In some cases, the addiction becomes so major that the person resorts to stealing these kinds of drugs
Surveys conducted in the United States reveal that kids as young as 12 years are known to use prescription drugs for recreational purposes. The number of kids above the age of 12 years, who are involved in drug abuse, come to a staggering 48 million. Research done on students in 12th grade, showed that about 9.3% of them abused drugs such as Vicodin, and 5% abused OxyContin (these are known to be strong painkillers, used for treating painful symptoms).
Also, the abuse is reported to be more prevalent among teenaged girls than in boys. Such a widespread abuse leads to around 200,000 medical visits to the emergency rooms every year. In severe cases, the affected person would need to enroll in a drug rehabilitation center.
On a concluding note, counseling is an extremely important part of the treatment. It helps affected people to identify triggers, and the sessions also guide them to overcome situations which might cause them to resort to abuse the drugs again.