Prescription drugs are a wonder of modern medicine. When used correctly, they relieve symptoms and lessen suffering for millions of Americans on a daily basis. But they are also addictive substances whose use is easily abused if people are not careful. The dangers of prescription drug abuse are many. Informing yourself and others about prescription drug risks is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with prescriptions and avoiding the potential for addiction.
Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is defined as any use of a prescription drug that goes beyond its intended use. Three types of drugs are the most likely candidates for abuse. These are opioids, stimulants, and anti-anxiety medications. Each of them brings a set of symptoms and dangers all its own.
Opioids are primarily used in treating pain and often get prescribed following severe injuries or after intensive surgery. Common drug names are OxyContin and Percocet. Symptoms related to opioid abuse include poor coordination, nausea, confusion, and constipation.
Stimulants are prescribed in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and also sometimes for sleep disorders. Their usage in treating ADHD makes them a particular danger for teens and young adults. Symptoms that many people experience from stimulant use include high blood pressure, suppressed appetite, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, and even paranoia.
Anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium treat anxiety and other mood disorders. Common symptoms resulting from their usage include dizziness, poor concentration, memory problems, and drowsiness.
Perhaps the two biggest dangers of prescription drug abuse are the potential for addiction or even a fatal overdose. Misusing a prescription drug easily results in abuse. A fine line divides abuse from full-blown addiction. Ultimately, addiction can impact anyone, from teens to the elderly.
Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse
The sector of the population that is most at risk of abusing prescription drugs is teens and young adults. Nearly 20% of teens report the use or attempted use of prescription drugs like OxyContin or Adderall to get high. Indeed, addiction is one of the biggest risks when abusing prescription drugs. But drug abuse comes with a host of health concerns that can vary based on the prescription in question. Some of the most common health impacts include:
- Development of an irregular heartbeat
- Mood and personality shifts
How someone takes a drug can also put them at risk. Intravenous use can expose them to infections like hepatitis or HIV. Moreover, fatal overdoses are a constant danger when prescription drugs are being used outside of how they were prescribed. Stimulants are one category of drug that teens tend to abuse at the highest rates. Many times, they take stimulants as performance enhancers related to academics or socializing in college.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
Prescription drug addiction can be treated just like any other addiction using therapy and medication. Behavioral therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management, work to disrupt the actions driving a person’s behavior. Some drug addictions can also be treated using medication. For instance, opioid addiction is often treated using methadone, which can support symptom relief during withdrawal and prevent cravings to support relapse prevention.
Georgia Addiction Treatment Center specializes in treating a range of prescription drug addictions. Care options through our addiction treatment center include:
- Men’s rehab
- Women’s rehab
- Partial hospitalization program
- Intensive outpatient
- Community housing
Every program is grounded in four priorities: aftercare planning, case management, a safe environment, and relapse prevention. Call us at 833.641.0661 to access our expert addiction treatment and get you or a loved one moving toward sobriety.