Prescription drug abuse affects a wide spectrum of American society, with legitimate medications misused and over used on a regular basis. Prescription drug abuse involves three main classes of drugs: opioid painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants. The abuse of these medications often leads to tolerance and dependence, with specialized drug treatment centers sometimes required to break the bonds of addiction. Prescription drug abuse leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain, with adverse health and social effects resulting from continued use.
If you or anyone you know is living with abusing prescription drugs, it’s important to get access to professional help as soon as possible. Reach out today by calling Drug Treatment Tallahassee at (850) 254-8944.
Prescription medications can be abused in multiple ways, with common methods including the over use of medications, combining medications, using drugs intended for another person, buying prescriptions or drugs on the black market, and using a different method of administration than intended by a doctor. People who abuse legitimate medications may visit multiple doctors in a practice known as “doctor shopping”, with some people also crushing up pills in order to snort or inject them for a more potent effect.
Generally speaking, prescription drugs are abused whenever they are used in a way that was not intended by a doctor or medical professional.
Opioids are the most widely abused class of prescription medications, accounting for well over half of all prescription drug abuse in the United States. Commonly abused opioid drugs include morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and buprenorphine. These drugs are taken medically for pain relief, and are widely used for the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions.
The analgesic effects of these drugs are due to decreased pain perception, decreased pain reaction, and increased pain tolerance. Opioid drugs also produce a sense of euphoria when taken in medium to large doses, with most recreational users consuming opioids for their euphoric effects.
Opioids are highly addictive when used on a continual basis, with tolerance developing over time and a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome experienced upon cessation of use. Typical withdrawal symptoms include:
Medications are often used during medical detoxification to alleviate symptoms and manage the recovery process, with opioids sometimes prescribed as a method of harm reduction in the context of opioid replacement therapy.
Sedatives, also known as central nervous system (CNS) depressants or tranquilizers, are the second most commonly abused class of prescription medications in the United States. CNS depressant abuse accounts for more than a quarter of all cases, with benzodiazepines the most widely abused type of sedative drug. Benzodiazepines are taken medically to treat a range of anxiety and sleep disorders, with common trade names including Valium, Serax and Xanax.
These drugs are widely abused for their sedative and relaxant qualities, with people either using sedatives on purpose for their recreational effects or slowly becoming dependent over time under medical care. Benzodiazepines cause a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome, with common symptoms including:
Stimulants are the third most widely abused class of prescription drugs, with these drugs taken medically to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Commonly abused stimulants include amphetamines, dextroamphetamine such as Adderall, and methylphenidate such as Concerta and Ritalin. These drugs are taken recreationally to provide physical energy and mental focus, with medications also available on the black market as an alternative to the potent illicit drug methamphetamine.
Common side effects of abuse of these drugs includes: