Since the start of the new millennium, the number of Americans using prescription drugs increased to nearly 50 percent. One-third of Americans use two or more drugs at a time. The prevalence of these medications facilitates the possibility of becoming addicted to substances normally used to treat disease.
The Purpose of Prescription Medication
Prescription drugs are used as a safe and standardized method to treat physiological disorders. These drugs are often needed to provide relief when other methods may not be able to do so. Prescription medications are used under the care of physicians and health professionals that have the discretion and authority to prescribe them as needed. A benefit to this method of treating disease is the ability to carefully monitor how and when a patient is exposed to treatment. The need and use of prescription medications helps some avoid the stigma of living with a disease or disorder, but the common misuse of prescription drugs leads to its own stigma.
The Practicality of Prescription Drugs
Prescription medications offer a more practical and convenient method to treat ailments compared to many other forms. They are portable methods of treatment with dosages carefully controlled by those that prescribe them. Because they are monitored by professionals, prescribed drugs can sometimes be used for prolonged periods if necessary. Many medications produce drastic improvements in patients’ health compared to their state before introducing the drug. Unlike surgical solutions, the presence of a prescription drug does not result in a permanent change when used correctly, and the patient can terminate use when directed by a doctor.
Increase in Use
There are many factors that led to an increase in prescribing and use of prescription medications. Better acceptance of common disorders over time including those related to anxiety and depression contributed to increased use. Social acceptance of using prescribed medications to treat certain disorders improved over time relieving some of the stigma around them. Research over time led to greater discoveries and the ability to classify many physical and mental disorders in ways that were more beneficial to patient health. With these classifications came new research in pharmaceuticals that allowed for better ways to treat various illnesses to give patients more fulfilling lives.
The Ease of Acquiring Prescription Drugs
The ability to acquire a drug often depends on the willingness of the medical professional treating the patient. As recognition for certain disorders increases, medical professionals may be more likely to offer appropriate drug solutions as an effective means of treatment. This helps contribute to an increase in the number of people within a population that may start using or misusing drugs. Other people acquire prescription medications through illegal means. Many sellers of street drugs have developed with the trends to sell prescription drugs along with normal “street” substances. Some patients also sell their own medications to others in order to earn an income. Other users take the risks of purchasing drugs through the black market.
The drawback to many medications is their ability to become habit-forming. The most highly-addictive drugs must be carefully monitored in order to ensure proper effects on the body. If a patient is not careful with their dosages, he or she can experience addiction even without having intentionally misused the medication. Once the body becomes used to functioning in the presence of a specific drug, the patient may develop a tolerance. When this occurs, successively higher dosages are needed in order to produce the same effects as before. If this pattern is followed by the patient, the body may not be able to carry on even its regular processes without the drug’s presence, and addiction occurs.
The Physical Effects of Addiction
Specific drugs will have varying physiological effects on the body. When the addicted patient goes for prolonged periods without that drug, numerous detrimental effects will occur to the body because it is no longer able to operate in the state to which it has become accustomed. Symptoms of drug withdrawal are often the extreme opposite of the physiological responses the body experiences from exposure to the drug. Common symptoms may include:
- Disruption of Sleep and Eating Patterns
These symptoms persist until the drug is taken again in the needed dose or the patient receives treatment to combat the addiction.
There are many treatment options available for those patients that suffer from prescription drug addiction. Rehabilitation can help restore one’s quality of life to what it was before being disrupted by an addiction to medications. There are treatment methods to tailor to every lifestyle, but one of the most effective is general inpatient treatment. With constant supervision and support, personal accountability is enhanced compared to sticking to one’s goals at home. There is also diminished access to doctors, drug vendors or other sources that may provide medications. Seeking treatment in the presence of other addiction sufferers allows individuals to make bonds with those that can understand their battles.
Although prescription medications are used as tools to overcome disease, they can become the cause of disorder as well. Addiction to medication is not uncommon, and it can occur even when patients use drugs for their intended purposes. When drug use becomes disruptive to healthy living, drug treatment methods are effective for overcoming the effects of prescription addiction.