Is It Common To Abuse Prescription Drugs?
Perhaps this goes without saying. But commonly abused prescription drugs cause a great deal of pain for people who become addicted. As human beings, we do not like pain. We do almost anything we can to avoid it. And why wouldn’t we? Pain hurts! Naturally, we want to avoid it. Our brains can even adapt to motivate us to avoid pain. Prescription drugs can (and do!) offer relief from pain. If they didn’t, then people would not willingly break laws to acquire them.
In this blog, Midwood Addiction Treatment sifts through the following ideas:
- The necessity of a prescription
- Defining prescription drug abuse
- Drugs most often abused
- Treating prescription drug abuse
- Getting help for yourself or someone else
The Necessity of A Prescription
Have you ever wondered why you need a prescription in the first place? You have ownership over your own body, after all. You ought to have access to the medication that you need…right? Perhaps that idea works in theory. But in practice it would likely prove disastrous.
Chemists develop pharmaceuticals in labs. These substances involve different kinds of molecules, compounds, and other chemicals. Before a pharmaceutical company can sell a new medicine, they must test it. But just because the FDA approves a medicine, that doesn’t mean the public has automatic access to it.
You’ve no doubt watched television (or your favorite streaming service) recently. You see the ads for new medications. The announcer always goes over the side effects. Side effects can adversely affect your health. Moreover, some medications react poorly when taken together. This can also harm you. For these reasons, we need prescriptions to help keep us safe. And alive. But the most commonly abused prescription drugs are a certain source of harm for many.
Defining Prescription Drug Abuse
Abuse constitutes breaking a boundary. To properly define it, we must understand these boundaries. Consider a person who visits their doctor for a certain problem. The doctor prescribes medication. The person must stick to the directions of their prescription. They ought to take the exact dosage on time. One must never exceed one’s dose. Also, your prescription belongs to you. Never give away or sell a prescription. When the prescription runs out, get it refilled. Take your medicine, and only your medicine. Anything beyond these guidelines becomes abuse.
Ways to abuse prescription drugs:
- Taking more than the recommended dose
- Giving someone else your medication
- Selling your medication
- Mixing your medication with alcohol or other drugs
- Using your prescription recreationally, i.e. to have fun or get high
- Consuming medication not prescribed to you
Drug Most Often Abused
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), these categories make up the most commonly abused prescription drugs:
Opioids come from the opium poppy. Historically, ancient societies used the “gum” from the poppy as a painkiller. In our era, we have derived medications from this plant. When reading opioids, you may also come across the word “opiates.” These words do have different meanings. “Opiates” specifically refers to natural substances: opium, codeine, and morphine. “Opioids” includes both natural opioids (“opiates”) and synthetic opioids. Synthetic opioids include drugs like fentanyl, heroin, Demerol, hydrocodone, etc.
Our brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). Brain impulses travel down the spine. From there, they venture out into the nerves. Then, our bodies respond. For people who struggle with anger, anxiety, or panic, this process happens very quickly. CNS depressants slow this process down. Benzodiazepines represent a frequently abused CNS depressant.
Stimulants have the opposite effect of depressants. Rather than slowing things down, stimulants add speed to the brain’s processes. For this reason, “speed” has become a common slang term for stimulants. You may also hear the term “uppers.” Stimulants decrease the appetite and provide energy. This excess energy usually leads to insomnia or other sleep disturbances.
Cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine represent common stimulants. However, everyday substances like caffeine, tobacco, and chocolate also belong to this category. We might also include alcohol as a stimulant. Depending on the circumstance, alcohol can also act as a depressant.
Treating Prescription Drug Abuse
Science has given us different treatment options for prescription drug abuse. Sometimes that treatment might include changes to one’s medication. Consider opioid use disorder. Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) provides a possible treatment. MOUD can help mitigate cravings.
While medication gives us a valuable tool, one cannot merely medicate a problem away. All treatment plans ought to include some form of therapy or counseling. A counselor can give a client an outside perspective. They can offer observations that the client might not see. Then, the client can explore possible remedies to their unique situation.
Getting Help For Yourself Or Someone Else
Perhaps you struggle with addiction to prescription drugs. Or, maybe you care about someone who does. Reading this article represented something new for you. Navigating to this page means you’ve come to a pivot. And now, you need to take action.