Addiction to Prescription Medications
One of the most commonly unacknowledged addictions is to prescription medications, which are incorrectly believed to be safer than illegal narcotics. Unlike black market drugs, prescription drugs are sold in every licensed pharmacy and are not hard to obtain. They frequently have highly addictive qualities and are easy to misuse as they come in abundant supply. Doctors prescribe medications to help their patients fight infection, recover from illnesses, ease pain symptoms and much more, but an addict will proceed to misuse the drug for the purpose of mood and sensation alteration, taking the substance long after symptoms have subsided. Addiction to Physician Prescribed medication knows no demographic and can overcome individuals of any age, gender or class.
Seniors and medical professionals are among the most likely to become addicted to prescription medications, simply due to their higher than average exposure to them. Seniors are statistically more reliant on prescription medications than any other age group, and it is a medical professional’s job duty to access them in their line of work. Addicts employ a number of methods to obtain the medication they are addicted to, including purchasing or receiving them from others who were prescribed the drug, committing theft (particularly from seniors), inflicting injury or illness upon themselves to create a need for the prescription or in the case of medical professionals, pocketing their patient’s leftover prescriptions.
Addiction to prescription medication can become very dangerous for the brain and other vital organs when misused for a long duration. When combined with other drugs or overdosed on, a prescription drug can be lethal, or can do permanent damage to the body. Anyone who is known to be misusing a prescription drug requires immediate intervention.
Drugs that act as depressants to the Central Nervous System (CNS), including downers and sleeping pills, are:
- Temazepam (Restoril)
- Amobarbital (Amytal)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Ethchlorvynol (Placidyl)
- Meprobamate (Miltown)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Sodium pentobarbital (Nembutal)
- Aleplon (Sonata)
- Estazolam (ProSom)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- Mephobarbital (Mebaral)
- Secobarbital (Seconal)
- Chlorazepate (Tranxene)
- Chloral hydrate (Noctec)
- Methaqualone (Quaalude)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
CNS depressants slow down the central nervous system, making the heart, lungs and brain work at a stunted pace. Some CNS depressants even have a tranquilizing effect on their user, and can be administered as an anesthetic. Other effects include relaxation, calmness, drowsiness and apathy. These substances are useful to people with anxiety, stress and sleep disorders, panic attacks and tension problems, but are among some of the most highly addictive and misused medications prescribed by doctors.
The reason CNS depressants are so addictive is because they can have very desirable psychological and physical effects, but they create a tolerance within the user very quickly. This prompts the user to take increasingly higher doses or stronger versions of the drug in order to maintain the substance’s effect. Broken thought processes, poor judgment, impaired motor skills, long memory gaps, confusion and dizzy spells are all side effects of CNS depressant misuse. In the case of an overdose or when combined with alcohol, other depressants or some herbal substances, the central nervous system can shut down completely and result in death or coma.
The most common story heard about the development of sleeping pill addiction is the case of the person who innocently sought an over-the-counter sleep remedy and became dependent on it. This lead to the need for a more potent prescription medication with even stronger addictive qualities, and soon the individual could not sleep without taking a steadily rising dose of the substance. Addiction is confirmed when someone is unable to rest without prescription sleeping pills or cannot control their urge to take them.
Drugs such as Destrostat, Adderal, Ritalin, Desoxyn, Modafini and Dexedrine are referred to as stimulants, or “uppers.” Having the opposite effect of depressants, this classification of prescription drug increases brain activity, enhancing energy, attention span, wakefulness and alertness in the user. Other bodily systems speed up as well, including heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and glucose levels. Several years ago, stimulants were commonly prescribed to treat a number of mental and physical disorders, but they were found to be highly addictive and the number of prescriptions today is more conservative. Doctors prescribe stimulants to treat certain forms of autism, eating disorders, ADD and ADHD, asthma, narcolepsy and depression. When misused, stimulants can cause volatility, paranoia or hostility, and if overdosed on, they can result in severe seizures or heart failure.
Opiates are referred to in three different distinctions: opioids or narcotics, semi-synthetics or fully-synthetics. Opiates that are known simply as opioids or narcotics have labels such as Oripavine, Codeine, Thebane and Morphine. The semi-synthetic variety include labels such as Hydromorphone or Dilaudid, Hydrocodone or Vicodin, Heroin or Diacetylmorphine, Meperidine or Demerol and Oxycodone or OxyContin. And finally, the fully-synthetic opiate has names such as Meperidine or Pethidine, Fentanyl (and its analogs) and Methadone.
Opioids are prescribed to treat pain symptoms or act as an analgesic, commonly being administered before surgery. There are proteins in the gastrointestinal tract, brain and spinal cord called “opioid receptors” that opioids attach to, disabling the brain’s ability to register pain. Opioids have the ability to block feeling and put the user into a euphoric state, making the substance extremely addictive. However, overdose can be deadly if severe respiratory depression occurs.
Steroids are another commonly misused prescription drug, known by label as Androstenedione (Andro) or Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Unlike many other prescription drugs, steroids are entirely man made. They are prescribed by medical professionals to treat AIDS, cancer and other conditions that result in decreased lean muscle mass. They are commonly misused by athletes and other individuals looking to quickly gain muscle mass. Steroids resemble male sex hormones and are known to stimulate muscle growth in men and women.
There are two common methods of taking steroids: stacking and pyramiding. Stacking is the practice of taking steroids in conjunction with opioids, stimulants are certain other drugs in order to increase muscle growth. Pyramiding is a strategic steroid dosing schedule that initially calls for an increasing dosage and ultimately calls for a tapered off dosage, making the body adjust to new hormone levels.
The side effects of steroid usage are largely hormonal. Women often go through bouts of acne, breast shrinkage, increased body hair growth, a drop in vocal pitch, fluid retention and a fluctuating menstrual cycle. Men may experience baldness, breast development, testicle shrinkage, fluid retention, enlarged prostate and a decrease in sperm mobility and count. Men and women alike experience hormone related disorders such as unstable emotions, depression, aggressive tendencies, psychosis and delusions.
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