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Prescription Drugs: More than Just Medicine

Prescription Drugs: More than Just Medicine

Prescription Drug Abuse Is on the Rise
Prescription Drug Abuse Is on the Rise

Prescription drugs are meant to address medical issues. However, the medicine that is meant to help you can also cause a world of harm. Many of these drugs are highly addictive and are abused by many. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 7 million people in the United States used prescription drugs without a legitimate medical reason in 2010. Misusing prescription drugs is both dangerous and illegal. Having a prescription from a doctor does not allow you to use prescription drugs freely. Stories of arrests for prescription drug schemes and misuse are seen in the news daily. This is not a new problem and it is getting bigger every day.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are:

  • Opioids
    • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
    • Oxycodone (OxyContin® and Roxicodone®)
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
    • Diazepam (Valium®)
    • Alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • Stimulants
    • Methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®)
    • Amphetamines (Adderall®)

These drugs address different ailments and disorders. Although they are helpful, they can have adverse effects on the body. Also, these drugs may be used for purposes other than the condition they are intended to treat. Listed below are the descriptions for these groups of prescription drugs.

Opioids or Opiate Medications

Opioids are meant to treat pain. These are usually prescribed to people after an injury or surgery. However, they cause euphoria when abused. These prescription drugs act similar to heroin and are also highly addictive. Pain pill addiction can result in a slowdown in breathing, which can lead to death. Addicts may experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop using these pain pills. Opiate withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nausea, insomnia and muscle pains.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressant Medications

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants treat anxiety and sleep problems; however they cause euphoria when abused. These drugs are physically and psychologically addictive. Abusing these drugs can result in slowed breathing, coma or death. Addicts who abuse these drugs are warned not to abruptly discontinue use because they may experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from an increase in anxiety to seizures.

Stimulant Medications

Stimulants are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy; however they are misused for performance enhancement or to get high. They can suppress appetite, increase alertness, focus and attention, and can also produce euphoric effects if abused. Addicts abusing these drugs may experience anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat or seizures. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms will occur if the drug is stopped abruptly.

All these drugs can be dangerous if abused. Many people do not intend to abuse them or get addicted, but it happens. These prescription drugs are effective in treating  uncomfortable symptoms and situations, and the thought of having to deal with pain or other symptoms can be frightening for the user. This fear can make someone go to great lengths to obtain these pills to keep symptoms away.

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