Prescription drug abuse is defined to be the use of medicinal drugs without any authorized prescription or in such a manner that the only purpose is to elicit its euphoric properties for the sake of pleasure. It has increased alarmingly and the grave consequences it has often ends with an overdose or in the worst case, death. Though prescription drugs are not so addictive, chronic or excessive use can create a dependency which can lead to addiction and abuse sooner or later.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs include morphine, heroin and various pain killers. The number of people estimated to abuse opioids throughout the world range between 26.4-36 million. This figure includes men, women and adolescents. Young people are more prone to falling victim to opioid pain killers, sedatives, stimulants and other anti-anxiety medicines.
The usage of opioids has increased over the past decade and there are various reasons for this sudden increase. One of the leading causes is the easy access to opioids. They are easily available over the counter and give just as much of a euphoric feeling as any other drug when consumed in the right dosage. This makes it one of the sought after means to creating a ‘high’ feeling.
Opioid abuse is not only harmful for the consumer but also for the society around them. This includes the disturbance in the economy, the problems families and personal relations face and the effect on productivity of the nation as a whole.
Opioid abuse is disturbingly destroying whole generations at a time. They can cause impairment in cognitive and physical functioning in extreme cases of addiction as well. People who cannot function without taking a drug are completely dependent on the drug, even to do simple daily tasks. Additionally, there is a strong link between opioid drug abuse and heroin abuse. The former often leads to the latter. Various researches and statistical figures generated by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reflect this correlation.
Strong and strict policy making and implementation along with effective practical efforts are required to control the increasing use and prevalence of prescription drug abuse.
Many people may start by using one of these drugs legitimately then progress to abuse after addiction occurs. Many more people try out someone else’s prescription in school, at work or at a party and like the effect. Whatever way it occurs, the rate of abuse and overdose both are on the rise.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Naturally, the signs of abuse of these drugs will vary by the type of prescription drug being abused. A person abusing prescription opiates (pain relievers), in addition to not feeling pain at normal levels, may be drowsy and confused. They may complain of nausea or look for remedies for constipation. Pupils will be constricted.
If they nod off, their breathing may be unnaturally slow. If they try to stop using this drug, they are likely to manifest muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting and chills for several days.
A person abusing benzodiazepines is using a drug intended to treat anxiety and sleeplessness. Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Halcyon (triazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam) fall into this category. These drugs are addictive and can be very dangerous to withdraw from without medical assistance.
Other drugs used for these purposes are similar in function but different in chemistry like Ambien and Lunesta. A person abusing any of these drugs may appear unnaturally relaxed and drowsy.
Further, a person abusing sedatives or tranquilizers may show these signs:
- Memory may be poor
- Speech may be slurred
- Coordination may be off
- Pupils will be dilated
- Person may be depressed, tired, aggressive, agitated, paranoid or suicidal
- There may be headaches and dizziness
A person abusing stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Desoxyn may manifest anxiety, delusions, flushed skin and chest pain with heart palpitations. Their sleep may be irregular, with long hours spent awake before they catch up.
There may be distinct changes in a young person who has started abusing prescription. Parents may chalk up these changes to just being a teenager. But if too many of these signs show up, it is time for a closer look.
- Young person withdraws from family and friends and wants to spent a lot of time alone
- They have given up on their interests and hobbies
- They are hostile, angry and aggressive toward anyone who tries to control their actions
- They cry for little or no reason and are routinely irritable
- They no longer take care of their appearance and cleanliness
- Quality of schoolwork and grades take a dive
- Their sleep patterns are all off, sleeping during the day and staying up all night or for days at a time
- They no longer care about family rules or curfew
Rescuing a Person from Prescription Drug Addiction
The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has been helping people find sobriety even after years or decades of being addicted, for nearly five decades. There are some 45 Narconon centers around the world, dedicated to helping people recover from addiction.
Of particular interest to the recovering addict or the family is the Narconon New Life Detoxification. This single phase of the overall addiction recovery program guides each person through this action that consists of time in a low-heat sauna, a strictly controlled nutritional program and moderate daily exercise. This combination activates the body’s ability to flush out old stored toxins that remain in the fatty tissues after drug use. When these residues are gone, those completing this step say they feel brighter, have more energy and that their cravings are either greatly reduced or gone.