Prescription drug abuse has gradually progressed to the forefront of our country’s addiction problem. Prescription drugs as a general medical solution have also become immensely more common and freely prescribed, making them simply more available for people. Unfortunately, not only can taking these drugs not as prescribed be dangerous, but the drugs prescribed today are so powerful and potent that even taking them exactly as prescribed can often result in addiction and dependence. Below are some prescription addiction facts you need to know.l
Prior to the turn of the century, prescription drugs were not only not as prevalent as they are today in terms of prescription numbers, but not nearly as many people were addicted to them either. Now, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. reported that prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused drugs, behind only alcohol and marijuana. Prescription drugs are ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, crack, and hallucinogens.
There are three routes of prescription pill consumption that can result in addiction. These are:
- Taking prescription drugs when one is not prescribed them. This is the route of simply obtaining pill drugs by whatever means and consuming them when one has no legitimate need for them, purely for the intents and purposes of getting high from them.
- Taking prescription drugs when one is prescribed them, but doing so in such a way that is not as prescribed. This is the route of self-medicating on prescription drugs, e.g. taking more than prescribed, or taking them more frequently than prescribed.
- Taking prescription drugs as prescribed. Yes, unfortunately, there are even instances of individuals who become addicted to prescription drugs even if they have an absolutely legitimate reason for taking them, and even if they take them exactly as prescribed. Though this may not occur as often as the above two instances, it still does happen and is even becoming more frequent.
Prescription drug abuse has now become so common that in our country there are approximately forty-eight million Americans who have abused prescription pill drugs. That number correlates to twenty percent of the U.S. population. Of those forty-eight million, it is thought that there are roughly eight million who are still current, active, and regular prescription drug users. This information comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, another nationwide government organization responsible for addressing addiction in our country.
Why People Abuse Prescription Drugs
One does not simply experience an addiction to a prescription drug overnight. It simply does not occur in this way. When people abuse pill drugs and then become hooked on them, they are doing it for a specific reason, and that reason is usually to address some other problem or area of difficulty in their lives that they are struggling with. People will self-medicate with pill drugs in an effort to forget about or not confront some other area of their life that they are struggling with significantly.
There are a lot of other reasons to abuse prescription drugs too. Some of these are:
- To relax, “chill out” or relieve tension or stress in the body or mind.
- To curb appetite for the purposes of weight loss.
- Especially for young people, to be accepted by peers.
- To avoid having to address the real issues of one’s life.
- To “escape” from it all.
- To get a “safe” high. A lot of people think that it is safer to abuse prescription drugs than it is to abuse street drugs. This is actually false. In fact, more people die every year from abusing pill drugs than those who die from all pill drugs combined.
- To help a person to cope with some kind of mental trauma or instability that they are not confronting with more healthy means.
These are just some of the reasons why people will abuse prescription pill drugs. There are certainly other reasons. The keynote here though is that the underlying reason why a person will abuse highly addictive and dangerous substances is to escape from other life situation or conditions that they do not want to face.
Prescription Addiction Facts
The three most commonly abused prescription pill drugs are pain drugs (also called opioid analgesics), tranquilizers and sedatives (downers like benzodiazepines and barbiturates), and stimulants, (uppers like amphetamines).
- Prescription pain relievers are easily the most commonly abused prescription drugs in use today. Prescription pain pills have an opium chemical base, the same basic chemical structure as heroin. Opioid drugs attach to the brain’s opioid receptors, blocking the reception of pain signals from the body’s nerves. This function essentially shuts off the pain, which is why these drugs are prescribed. However, when too much pain-relieving substances are taken, it creates a euphoric high that is described as being sensational and pleasant. Furthermore, when these drugs are taken in any amount by those who do not need them, this effect is likely to occur. This feeling is what people get addicted to. This feeling and the pain-numbing, body-numbing sensation of the drugs are why people continue to abuse them even if they know it is not the right thing to do.
- Tranquilizers and sedatives are technically referred to as “Central nervous system depressants.” These are prescribed by doctors and psychotherapists to treat nervous hysteria, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, fear, nervousness, and other nerve-based problems where the brain and mind are functioning more than a person wants it to be. Unfortunately, this “slowing of the brain” is not necessarily the right thing to do and is not necessarily proper biologically by any means either. In fact, it is quite unnatural to tamper with brain function, and hyperactivity in the brain which causes anxiety can usually be successfully addressed with much less invasive techniques.
- Stimulants have the opposite effect of tranquilizers and sedatives. Stimulants are pill drugs that are used to increase brain traffic and cognitive thought in those taking them. These are drugs that are prescribed to address ADHD, ADD, OCD, depression, etc. While the drugs increase brain traffic, they also have the effect of increasing blood pressure and heart rate and constricting blood vessels. On top of that, the drugs (especially Adderall and Dexedrine) act as gateway drugs and cause people to try other drugs that may be even more addictive and potentially more dangerous.
When a person becomes addicted to their prescription or starts taking these substances recreationally, this is a sign that actual abuse of these substances has set in and the person needs to get help. Prescription drugs, as they are used in America today, carry a large degree of risk connected to them and should be avoided in general unless they are absolutely necessary.
When a person struggles with an addiction to prescription drugs, the solution is or them to enter into an addiction treatment center and recovery program. Such programs offer the tools and the recovery methods for helping people to address both the physical and the psychological implications of prescription drugs.
Though an addiction to prescription drugs may seem like a life-ending prospect, there is help for those who desire it. For more information on prescription drugs and addiction to them and how to address it, contact Best Drug Rehabilitation today.