In recent years, drugs such as Adderall, Vicodin, tranquilizers, sedatives, cough medicine, and OxyContin have been abused by individuals as young as 14 years of age. The drugs are taken for reasons that are not intended by a doctor. These drugs also are most likely taken by a person who was not prescribed the medication. A widely used category of painkillers, prescription drugs are abundant, costly, and the addictive properties of prescription drugs can be dangerous.
What is a Prescription Drug?
Legitimate medical complaints such as severe pain, anxiety and sleep disorders, and hyperactivity disorders are common reasons for prescribed painkillers. Different classes of medications are used by people wanting to achieve different effects. Opioids are typically prescribed for pain. Tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics are described as central nervous system depressants which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Stimulants are mainly prescribed for treating hyperactivity disorder.
Injuries and surgeries can result in immediate pain after the doctors or hospital. Painkillers are often prescribed to help patients to cope with their recovery pain. Some physicians prescribe very strong pain medications for patients with recurring medical issues. These issues commonly include lower-back pain, chronic headaches, and other continuing medical concerns. Reasons for the misuse of these drugs may vary person to person. Age groups, accessibility, gender, and other factors can contribute to the prevalence of misuse.
Prescription drugs are always prescribed by a doctor and bought at a pharmacy. The New Drug Application (NDA) process regulates prescription drugs through the FDA. This formal step ensures a drug sponsor that the FDA has considered approving a new drug to be on the market.
The data in the NDA includes human and animal data and analyses as well as the drug behavior in the body and how it’s manufactured. The drug review process ensures the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs. Many people may be confused about what is a prescription drug and what is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. Over-the-counter drugs can have similar psychoactive properties and can be abused in the same way as prescription drugs. OTC’s do not have to have a doctor’s prescription to purchase them. They are available at drugstores and also regulated by the FDA.
How Can Prescription Drugs Be Abused?
Prescription medications are intended to be used by the person they are prescribed to. This is due to the addictive properties of prescription drugs that can devastate a person’s life.
In the past, misinformation was given to the public about the addictive properties of prescription drugs as illicit drugs were deemed more harmful. This could have been a contributor to the addiction problem in the U.S. People who were prescribed painkillers were not notified or fully aware of misuse risks.
Younger individuals are surprisingly heavily affected by the addictive properties of prescription drugs. Following alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, prescription medications that are taken non-medically are among the most frequently used drugs by 12th graders.
Children under the age of 18 can be prescribed medications, but extreme caution is needed. Prescription drugs are abused by those under 18, and those over 18 years of age. Although the doctors’ intentions are never this way, children often can get a hold of drugs that were meant for other people. Even adults can obtain prescription drugs that are not intended to be used for them. These drugs can be stolen, bought or obtained by a trade of hand.
Although some younger individuals may be intending to use these drugs for “pain,” non-medical use of the drugs is very extremely common. The euphoria or high achieved by prescription medications is considered misuse and can easily lead to addiction. Besides addiction by just the prescription medications themselves, studies have been shown that youth are more likely to report the use of other drugs also.
The associations between prescription misuse and high cigarette smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use are clear in many cases of young adults.
The problem with prescription drugs applies to many of those who legally have access to them.
Adults and Prescription Drug Misuse
Adults generally use at least one prescription medication on a daily basis. Drug misuse can also be an issue when multiple medications are being used. Many adults use a variety of prescription and over-the counter drugs. Tolerance varies from individual to individual when it comes to the dosage of painkillers. When the prescription is prescribed, the doctor adjusts the strength of dosage in relation to the pain being experienced.
Over time, especially when the drugs are used for over 90 days, abuse can prevail. While the patient believes they are needing more of the medication, each heightened dose can lead them to severe consequences. Cardiac or respiratory failure can draw closer with higher dosage. Addiction can be described as the most severe form of drug misuse, as it brings many health concerns along with it. From emergency room visits to drug overdoses, the addictive properties of prescription drugs can be life-threatening.
Prevention and Treatment
The role involving prescription drugs includes more than just the patients and their decision making. Physicians, patients, and pharmacists all contribute to preventing and identifying the non-medical use of prescription medications. Medical professions can help patients to identify problems that begin to show red flags of abuse. Increases in the frequency of use of the medications and unscheduled refill requests should be taken note of.
Those who are misusing drugs may go through something called “doctor shopping.” This is when a patient goes from doctor to doctor as an effort to gain access to multiple prescriptions for the drugs they desire. To help control this, prescription drug monitoring programs are put in place. This state-run electronic database is used for tracking prescriptions and the dispensing of drugs to patients. This is an important tool for identifying and preventing the misuse of prescription medications.
Although there is always a chance for prescription drug misuse, following the doctor’s or pharmacist’s directions can lower abuse chances. Also, by not changing a dosing regimen without consulting with a doctor. By storing and discarding unused or expired medications properly, the risk of use by others not intended to use the drugs can be diminished.
Non-addictive pain medications are a growing need for alternative pain treatments. Alternative treatment approaches could effectively treat chronic pain management and reduce addiction concerns.
More About the Addictive Properties of Prescription Drugs
Health risks and addiction are a risk when taking prescription medications. If addiction does occur, early treatment is very important to quicker recovery. In order to receive early treatment, the addiction needs to be addressed. With prescription drug abuse, physicians can play a role in recognizing addictive tendencies, but this is not always the case. Being aware of addiction symptoms such as behavioral changes, irritability, anxiety, cravings, and physical appearance can help the individual themselves recognize their issue. After the recognition is established, seeking help is the next step. This step is extremely helpful when family and friends are on board with the desired recovery.
Not every abuser is open to sharing their issues with close friends and family. Professional counselors are available to those who need help and answers to their addiction without disclosing their identity immediately.
At A Forever Recovery, we have ample experience with individuals suffering from the addictive properties of prescription drugs. From over the course of a decade, we have helped people beat addiction and advance into a sober, drug-free lifestyle. For more information on the addictive properties of prescription drugs, contact us today. We can also be of assistance if you need treatment for yourself or a loved one.