Prescription drug abuse is one of the most common forms of drug abuse in America. Experts suggest as many as 52 million people in the United States have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some point. Many later go on to form addictions or other destructive behaviors.
If you are addicted to or abusing prescription drugs like OxyContin, Xanax, or Adderall, please call Drug Treatment Shreveport at (318) 550-3059.
Prescription drug abuse is defined as any use of a prescription drug for a purpose or in a way not ordered by a doctor. This can include taking painkillers to get a pleasurable high, combining anti-depressants with alcohol, or taking pain relievers too quickly because the effects aren't kicking in fast enough. This behavior can lead to addiction, organ damage, brain damage, or even overdose and death.
Prescription drug abuse is perhaps so common because the rate at which the drugs are prescribed are entirely too high. Without proper education and warning on how easily one can become a victim of prescription drug abuse it can be difficult to prevent it. Recently, the different scheduling of prescriptions has made them more difficult to get ahold of and more difficult to abuse. Certain medications such as Adderall and Xanax can no longer be filled at ease but require doctor's written consent each 30 days.
Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs are opiates, such as morphine, codeine, Vicodin, and oxycodone, which bring a feeling of euphoria and emotional stability. Heroin is also an opiate (though it is expressly illegal and never prescribed), and it deleterious effects can be similar to prescription opiates if they are abused.
Indeed, many heroin addicts began as casual prescription opiate abusers. Sedatives and stimulants, or "downers" and "uppers" are also commonly abused prescription drugs. Sedatives include barbiturates, sleeping pills, and antihistamines and some common types of stimulants include amphetamines like Adderall and Methylphenidates like Ritalin.
Occasional prescription drug abuse is not the same thing as addiction, though the one can very easily lead to the other. Addiction is characterized by a physical and mental need for a drug, an inability to function without it. Drug abuse can involve a one-off incident or multiple incidences of "experimentation". This can still be harmful and life threatening. Drugs are prescribed with very specific directions on how many to take and when, and these instructions are carefully measured to fit your particular body type and health requirements. Abuse is courting disaster each time.
Some people are more likely to abuse drugs, such as those who suffer from mental illnesses like depression or who have abusive or dysfunctional family lives. Another major factor is family history. Some people are simply more prone to drug abuse based on genetics. Signs that someone may be abusing drugs include sudden shifts in personality or sleep patterns, inattentiveness or agitation, and changes in appetite. The side effects of every kind of prescription drug are too numerous to list, but if someone suddenly begins behaving extremely out of character, especially after a traumatic event like a career setback or injury, it's possible they are abusing drugs.
Another major factor to consider when dealing with a potential drug abuser is that prescription drugs are heavily regulated and can get you into legal trouble if you misuse them. Drugs are divided by the Drug Enforcement Agency into Schedules, or tiers of illegality. Schedule 1 drugs are determined to be highly addictive and have no medical use, Schedule 2 drugs are addictive but have a medical use, and Schedule 3 drugs are determined to have even less potential for abuse.
The only drug considered a Schedule 1 that is also sometimes prescribed is marijuana, which is expressly illegal in twenty-three states, is sometimes prescribed for medical reasons in nine states, and in the remaining states marijuana is either decriminalized or, in the case of Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, recreational marijuana is completely legal. Most prescription drugs fall under Schedule 2 classification, with medications like Adderall, Dexedrine, and hydrocodone falling under that banner.
It's important to remember that prescription drugs have many wonderful effects that can improve our minds and bodies, but they only do their job if they are used correctly. Drug abuse can only lead to disaster, and if you know someone who might be abusing, it's important to make your concerns known. Seek drug addiction treatment and medical detoxification if you feel that you have become dependent on a prescribed drug.