The current problems relating to prescription drug abuse is one that many people struggle to comprehend. It can be tough to come to terms with the fact that a medication prescribed by a doctor could be harmful or addictive. Most people have no idea why prescription drug abuse is dangerous, or what it even is for that matter.
For many, the term drug addiction is reserved for those who abuse illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or ecstasy. The idea that someone who has never touched an illegal substance could also be classed as a drug addict is something that much of society just cannot get their head around.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Prescription drugs are prescribed for those who require stronger painkillers or who need treatment for conditions for which regular over-the-counter medication are ineffective. The reason these drugs are available on prescription only is that they carry certain risks and can be dangerous when abused.
A doctor must weigh up the pros and cons of prescribing such medication before doing so. He or she must also take many factors into consideration, such as the persons age, weight, and overall health. If an individual has underlying mental or physical health problems, for example, it will have an effect on which medications are prescribed. Doctors must also be mindful of what type of other medications a person is taking as it could cause a harmful interaction.
What often happens is that a person will be prescribed a course of medication for a specified period of time, but in many instances that individual might not need to take all of his or her medication. This can mean that he or she is left with a number of prescription painkillers or sedatives. These pills might then sit in a cupboard not being used; that is, until a family member or friend complains of a painful ailment similar to the one that the medication was originally prescribed for.
Many people do not see the harm in giving a loved one their leftover medication to treat a painful condition. Or, for example, they might tell a family member or friend that they have a sedative drug that will help them to sleep if they are complaining of insomnia. What most do not realise is that giving prescription medication to another person is dangerous while taking medication that was not prescribed for you is classed as abuse.
Nonetheless, not everyone who is prescribed medication for a legitimate condition stops taking them when the pain subsides. With prescription drugs, a tolerance usually develops, which causes the medication to be less effective than it initially was. Some will then increase the amount of the drug they are taking in order to achieve a specific level of pain relief or satisfaction. This is also classed as abuse. It is not recommended that you increase the dose of prescription medication without consulting your doctor first.
The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
As so many people do not understand the harm in taking more of their medication or in giving it to another person, it can be difficult for them to understand why prescription drug abuse can be so dangerous.
You need to know though that many of the medications available as prescription-only are actually highly addictive. Taking them in a manner that was not prescribed or taking them when they were not prescribed for you, could lead to physical dependence, followed by addiction. It should also be mentioned that even those taking prescription medication exactly as prescribed by a doctor for a prolonged period can become addicted. Many of these drugs are designed for short-term use only.
If an addiction to prescription drugs does develop, it can have a detrimental impact on everyday life. The person with the addiction will typically suffer poor health, problems within relationships, money troubles, and will have an increased risk of premature death caused by accidental overdose.
Like any other addiction, a prescription drug addiction can be damaging to all aspects of life. As the need for the drug grows, the individual with the problem will find it harder to maintain a normal life. If you have been affected by prescription drug abuse and addiction, you are likely to lose interest in things that you used to enjoy.
You might stop spending time with your family members and friends because you have no interest in doing anything except taking your medication. It could begin to cloud your judgement and you may suffer extreme mood swings as you go from being under the effects of the drug to having the effects wear off.
Having a prescription drug addiction means you are more likely to take risks. You might begin abusing your medication with other substances to enhance the effects, but this can have devastating consequences. The risk of overdose increases dramatically when prescription drugs are mixed with other drugs or alcohol.
If you allow your addiction to progress without treatment, you might even get to the point where you begin looking for drugs online or on the streets particularly if your doctor refuses to renew your prescription. This can lead to buying fake pills that contain harmful substances or buying street drugs to help you achieve the feelings you crave.
The Impact of Prescription Drug Addiction on Family Life
The risk of accidental death goes some way in explaining why prescription drug abuse is so dangerous, but there are other consequences for those who abuse their medication too. If you do develop an addiction to prescription drugs, your whole way of life will change. Moreover, it will not only have a negative effect on you, but it will on the people around you as well.
As you become preoccupied with the medication, your behaviour will change, and you might stop spending time with those you love and care about. You might be unable to take care of your responsibilities at home while your ability to work may also be affected. This will have an immediate impact on the people in your family, especially if you are one of the main providers.
Children of addicted parents are particularly affected by the addiction. Younger children often do not understand what is going on and because they are young, other adults tend to think they are not affected. However, they usually suffer from emotional problems because of the erratic and unpredictable behaviour of their parent.
Older children will also suffer. Despite the fact that they may understand what is going on, they will struggle with their emotions too and could start to withdraw into themselves. Their relationships with peers will be affected as they might not want others to find out about their home life. This can cause isolation and loneliness, and many of these kids will struggle in later life as a result. Research has also shown that the children of addicts are also much more likely to develop an addiction themselves when they get older too.
Treatment for Addiction
Treatment for addiction to prescription drugs is similar to treatment for any other mood-altering substance, typically requiring a detox, followed by a programme of rehabilitation. It is important to tackle both the physical and the psychological element of the addiction if you want to have a full recovery.
Treatment programmes for prescription drug addiction are offered by charities, private clinics, and the NHS. Here at UK Rehab, we can help you find a programme to suit your needs and individual circumstances. If you are keen to find out more about why prescription drug abuse is harmful and how it can lead to crippling addictions, please call us today and speak with one of our friendly advisors.
We can assess your situation to determine how serious your addiction is and what type of programme would be best. We can also provide information on the treatment options available in your area. Please call right now to find out more about how we can help you.