Prescription Drugs and Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drugs are commonly prescribed for patients who suffer from various illness, disease or discomfort. Most people have taken prescription drugs at some point in life following doctors orders, but an alarmingly high number of people are now taking prescription medications that are not prescribed to them. Prescription drug addiction has become an increasingly common social concern during the past decade as millions of individuals find comfort, fun, or relief in the use of prescription medications that are not prescribed to them.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs include opiates and benzodiazepines. Both of these classes of prescription medications cause serious drug addictions, adverse side effects, and can even result in death when taken improperly. Opiates are a form of pain relieving medication that is commonly prescribed for severe pain associated with certain terminal illness and diseases. Benzos (Benzodiazepines) are prescribed to relieve anxiety or to promote sleeping but they are now a major concern of abuse in the prescription drug world.
Types of Prescription Drugs
There are many different types of prescription drugs and when used improperly they can all be very dangerous. The most commonly abused types of prescription medications include opioids, CNS depressants and stimulants.
Opioids are most commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. When used according to doctors prescription these prescription drugs are relatively safe, but when used outside of a doctors’ supervision, without a prescribed need, or in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol opioids can be very dangerous and even deadly. Opioids are referred to as narcotics by law enforcement.
CNS depressants work to slow normal brain function which is why these prescription drugs are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and certain sleep disorders such as insomnia. There are two very common types of CNS depressants. Barbiturates which usually treat anxiety and benzodiazepines which are commonly prescribed to treat panic attacks and acute stress.
Stimulants are another prescription medication that is commonly prescribed and also commonly abused. Stimulants work in an opposite manner to CNS depressants in that stimulants are prescription drugs that actually enhance brain activity. Stimulants were once commonly prescribed for the treatment of asthma but due to the high rate of abuse among the prescription drug world, stimulants are not prescribed in a more moderate manner to those who do not respond to other types of treatment or therapy.
Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction and Pharmaceutical Drug Abuse
Prescription drug use comes with a number of long-term side effects including damage to the kidneys, liver and stomach. Depending on the type of prescription drug and the length of time that the drugs are abused, long term effects can include organ damage, disease and brain damage. Long-term abuse of prescription drugs is linked to dependence, addiction and ultimately withdrawal when the drugs are removed from the daily regimen.
Overdose is not uncommon for those who abuse prescription medications. Many prescription drugs will cause additional side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and hot and cold flashes. Prescription drugs such as opioids can cause depressed breathing, drowsiness and paranoia when taken repeatedly or in high doses.
Prescription drug addiction usually starts with a valid reason for the drug use such as pain or a health condition that warrants the prescription from a doctor. Unfortunately, over time, people tend to build a tolerance to the prescription drugs that they take and will sometimes attempt to take larger doses (or more frequent) doses of the prescribed medications in order to feel the same effects. This is just the beginning of prescription drug addiction as well as a long road to recovery.
Not all prescription drug addiction begins with a prescribed medication though. Adolescents are the most common abusers of prescription drugs. Many adolescents, high school age children and college students are now abusing prescription drugs as a way to socialize at parties and other events. Additional concerns focus on elderly and older adults who are often prescribed psychotherapeutic drugs but begin to misuse the medications placing them at risk for additional health consequences.
Anyone who takes prescription medications can become the victim of prescription drug addiction. Even some individuals who do not abuse prescription drugs but who are prescribed certain medications to alleviate pain or treat certain health conditions can become victim to prescription drug addiction. Long term use of prescription drugs builds tolerance that is backed by withdrawal effects that many individuals need assistance and help to cope with in order to stop using certain prescription drugs.
Pharmaceutical Addiction and Health Care Providers
Pharmaceutical addiction is becoming more and more common amongst a wide age range of people. It’s not just the middle aged or older adults anymore who are plagues with pharmaceutical addiction. In recent years, millions upon millions of individuals have taken prescription drugs in a manner that was not for medical use or that was not as prescribed by a doctor.
Alarming increases in prescription drug addiction have spurred health care providers to take additional precautions when prescribing prescription drugs to patients. Health care providers have the advantage of being able to help patients recognize when they are abusing prescription drugs and to assist them with the recovery process as needed. Many health care providers will now screen patients for various substance abuse as part of the routine visit for primary care.
Additionally, health care providers should pay close attention to any increases in prescription drugs that are made to a patients regimen and take note of possibility of tolerance being developed. Many patients who abuse prescription drugs will start by asking the doctor to approve refills prior to the date the medication should be refilled or they may ask the doctor to increase the quantity of the prescription drug that is prescribed to them. These are all signs of a tolerance and possibly of pharmaceutical abuse which health care providers should pay attention to.
Health care providers are faced with the dilemma of trying to treat patients most effectively without creating the potential for a prescription drug addiction. Health care providers should not avoid prescribing pain medications and prescription drugs when needed, but they should pay more attention to their patients upon prescribing the medications and learn to recognize signs of pharmaceutical addiction early on in order to help prevent additional prescription drug addictions.
Pharmacists also play a role in the prevention of prescription drug addiction and prescription drug abuse. A pharmacist should not only clearly explain how a medication should be taken but also explain how the medication can affect the patient as well as how certain prescription drugs may interact with other prescription drugs. Pharmacists also have the obligation of double checking prescription forms to assure the the prescriptions that they do place into the hands of individuals are not fraudulent or otherwise altered before they are seen by the pharmacist. Many health care providers have reduced the likelihood of fraudulent prescriptions being filled by sending prescription requests to the pharmacy direct from the doctor’s office eliminating the need for a paper prescription form all together.
Increased accountability has caused many health care providers and pharmacists to develop ways to alert others to prescription drug abuse, prescription fraud and other abusive uses of prescription drugs. Pharmacies now employ a method of instantly alerting other pharmacies of fraud when a fake prescription is detected. Many doctors now work together to assure that patients are not “doctor shopping” (a method of visiting multiple doctors and being prescribed numerous medications at each in order to feed a prescription drug addiction or to sell the prescription drugs on the street) and many pharmacies have files linked together to determine who is getting more prescription medications than necessary (even when they are coming from multiple different pharmacies within the state).
Prescription Drug Rehab and Treatment for Pharmaceutical Addiction
Pharmaceutical addiction can be treated in a number of ways depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual patient. Patients who suffer from chronic pain or other illness may still need to take prescription drugs in order to live comfortably in which case treatment for the addiction should include monitoring to assure that the prescription drugs are being taken properly as prescribed. For those addicted to prescription drugs who are not in any need of the drug, cognitive-behavioral therapies will usually work to prevent future drug abuse and to help with recovery from pharmaceutical addiction.
Certain prescription drug addictions can be treated with medications that can help counteract the side effects that the drug has on certain brain processes and individual behaviors. Prescription drug rehab may include the use of medications to help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal during the prescription detox process. Some medications will also work to help individuals who suffer from pharmaceutical addiction to overcome drug cravings that would otherwise make quitting difficult or impossible for the individual mentally.
Most prescription drug rehab programs will employ a method of pharmaceutical addiction treatment that includes a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapies as well as medications. Research shows that this method of treatment for pharmaceutical addiction is the most effective and has best results.
Prescription drugs are physically addicting and therefore, treatment for prescription drug addiction should be monitored by a medical professional. It is not advisable to completely eliminate certain prescription drugs from the body “cold turkey” as certain prescription drugs do pose extremely high risks during the detox phase. Anyone suffering from prescription drug addiction who needs help to stop taking the drugs and wants help can benefit from the various types of prescription drug rehab programs that are available at drug rehab centers and addiction rehab centers.