Addiction to Prescription Medications

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It’s difficult to know exactly how many people are addicted or have suffered addiction to prescription drugs. It is unknown exactly why some people become addicted the drugs that they are prescribed and others don’t. Most likely it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It’s an increasing problem, and prescription drug abuse can affect all age groups, but it’s more common in young people. People become addicted after taking a prescription for medical reasons and then going on the misuse the prescription drug, and others begin taking prescription drugs recreationally to produce a desired effect and then become dependent.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the three kinds of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused are:

  • Opioids used to treat pain
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants, such as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, Ritalin) used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder).

Opioid painkillers produce a short-lived euphoria, and are highly addictive. Long-term use of painkillers can lead to physical dependence. The body adapts to the presence of the substance and if one stops taking the drug abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur.

CNS depressants such as anti-anxiety medications are meant for short-term use. However, many people take anti-anxiety drugs for long periods of time. This is risky because, when taken regularly, benzodiazepines quickly lead to physical dependence. Drug tolerance is also common, with increasingly larger doses needed to get the same anxiety relief as before. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use.

Ritalin, often prescribed to children with ADHD, which when abused can produce effects similar to that of using cocaine. Ritalin is reported to be the most common stimulant to be taken non-medically. It has become common with University students in exam time to help concentration and energy levels.

Addiction to prescription drugs is to be taken seriously, it is thought that now, most deaths due to drug overdoses are from prescription drugs, more than from cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs.

Treatment for prescription medication addiction is similar to that of other drug addiction treatment, it often involves a combination of behavioural and pharmacological treatments. Treatment is tailored depending on the kind of prescription drug.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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