The Most Common Forms of Prescription Drug Abuse
We’ve dealt with a lot of uncertainty over the last year. Mental health suffered and prescription drug abuse elevated. Many still seek gainful employment. If people can’t work, they can’t pay mortgages or rent. COVID-19 presented those struggling with opioid addiction with additional stressors.
We can find a way forward through the pandemic. And we can heal from prescription drug abuse. But before we do, we’ll have to understand what we’re up against.
In this article, you will learn:
● What is drug abuse?
● What is prescription drug abuse?
● What are the most common forms of prescription drug abuse?
● What are the consequences of prescription drug abuse?
● How can a person struggling with prescription drug abuse get help?
What Is Drug Abuse?
In recovery circles, you’ll hear the terms abuse and addiction frequently. While they can be part of the same problem, they have different definitions. Addiction refers to the process of feeling compelled to use a certain substance. And also being unable to stop using it. But abuse means using a substance for something other than its intended purpose. So, you can abuse a substance without becoming addicted to it.
Here are a few examples of abusing substances:
● Consuming a substance because it makes you feel good
● Consuming a substance to escape problems
● Taking too much of a substance
● Mixing a substance with any amount of another substance (i.e. alcohol)
● Using substances that you know are illegal
What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Abuse is using a substance for something other than its intended purpose. But what about prescription drugs? Can you abuse your own medications? Yes. Absolutely, you can. Many 2020 overdose statistics indicate that COVID-19 contributed to an astronomical increase in drug overdose deaths. The reason? A rise in the availability of prescription opioids.
Opioids include drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, heroin, and morphine. They work as numbing agents for pain. If a person experiences severe pain, as many people have in the last year, that person will seek relief. Is it any wonder so many have turned to opioids to ease their agony?
Prescription drug abuse, like the above opioid example, occurs in a few different ways:
● Taking more than the prescribed dose
● Mixing a prescription with another drug (called polysubstance abuse)
● Taking someone else’s prescription, with or without their knowledge
● Consuming a prescription in a way other than the method prescribed (i.e. snorting, injecting, etc.)
● Selling your own prescriptions, or portions of your prescriptions, to others
What Are The Most Common Forms Of Prescription Drug Abuse?
The three most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, benzodiazepines, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
At root, opioids work as painkillers. You may hear the terms opioids and opiates used. Like abuse and addiction, they have some similarities. But they do not mean precisely the same thing. Opioids is a very broad term, including both natural and artificial substances. But the term opiates specifically refers to natural substances.
Some examples of natural opioids (opiates) include codeine, morphine, and heroin. Synthetic opioids are made in labs. These include oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and fentanyl. Though these drugs do have legitimate medical uses, they accounted for about 75 percent of all drug overdose deaths during the pandemic.
Benzodiazepines (benzos) help offset insomnia, seizures, and anxiety. Benzos work by stimulating the production of a neurotransmitter called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). Our brains produce GABA to help reduce stress and get us to sleep. You may hear the term sedative used when discussing benzos. Benzos can cause intense feelings of relaxation.
Several common benzodiazepines include clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and iorazepam (Ativan). Though benzos can provide help and relief, they do cause physical dependence. Often, this dependence becomes so severe that the medical community coined the term benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
Your brain and your spinal cord comprise your central nervous system (CNS). Any signals from your brain travel through your nerves. Your brain bears numerous responsibilities. It stores your memories, influences your emotions, helps you make decisions, and controls your habits.
CNS depressants work similar to benzodiazepines. They increase the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA, which slows down your brain’s processes. While benzodiazepines have this effect, CNS depressants include other drugs. Sedative hypnotics (sleeping pills) like zolpidem (Ambien) depress the functions of the CNS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499875/ like phenobarbital (Luminal) also make up part of this group.
What Are The Consequences Of Prescription Drug Abuse?
For prescription drug abuse, consequences abound. First, there are the consequences to one’s physical health. Some side effects of abusing prescription opioids include constipation, nausea, and drowsiness. Opioids can also slow down your breathing. When too little oxygen reaches your brain, you experience hypoxia. And hypoxia can be fatal.
Second, consider the ramifications of benzodiazepine dependence. Quitting cold turkey can be lethal. Anyone wanting to reduce their dependence on benzos should consider tapering.
Abusing prescription drugs places you at risk for addiction. Substance use disorders (SUDS) can aggravate pre-existing mental health issues. Even if you’re taking your own prescription for improved mental health, abusing that drug places your mind (and body) in jeopardy.
How Can A Person Struggling With Prescription Drug Abuse Get Help?
Not everyone’s journey involves addiction. Remember, abuse and addiction have differences. If you’ve taken more than your prescribed dose, that counts as drug abuse. If you’ve taken something not prescribed to you, that also counts as drug abuse.
If you’re struggling with the temptation to abuse prescription drugs, help is available. It will take work. It will involve increasing your awareness of your own life. Your habits. Your processes. It will take sacrifice. But treatment plans exist that can help you live a life free of prescription drug abuse.
Help means admitting that you have a problem. It means contacting Midwood Addiction Treatment now. Once evaluated, you’ll meet with a doctor or therapist. There, you’ll learn about a treatment plan that’s tailored to your specific circumstance.
Don’t wait any longer. Call Midwood Addiction Treatment now at (704) 741-0771.