The Drugs Are Very Effective
Most addictive prescription drugs are usually potent and effective. For instance, a person recovering from a major surgery feels better shortly after taking opioid painkillers. This, in itself, can become the reason some people develop an addiction to prescription drugs.;
You see, the intensity of the problem is significantly reduced not long after ingesting the medication. Therefore, the medicine becomes the go-to when the issue comes up whether its pain, stress, anxiety or depression.
This effectiveness can cause one to develop a dependence on the medication. As such, in a bid to deal with their condition or prevent a recurrence, people may reach out for the pill bottle more often than necessary. This results in prescription drug abuse and addiction.
American Drug Use Is On The Rise
Across most generations, genders and demographics in the U.S., drug use has increased. Whether discussing heroin, prescription drugs, marijuana or synthetics, American drug abuse has reached alarming levels. With so much information available about the dangers of drug use and headline after headline about record opioid abuse and overdoses, one would think that these numbers would be headed in the opposite direction. Why have Americans seemingly gone backwards in the fight against drug abuse?
Signs Of Substance Misuse
In its most serious form, a substance use disorder can have serious, potentially life-threatening consequences. If someone is misusing substances, you may notice a change in their behavior at work, school, in their relationships, or around money.
But sometimes, people who are struggling with drugs or alcohol will try to hide their behavior out of guilt, shame, or denial that they have a problem. If you suspect someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, there are warning signs you can watch out for:
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How Do Prescription Opioids Affect The Brain
Opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in the body, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. When opioids attach to these receptors, they block pain signals sent from the brain to the body and release large amounts of dopamine throughout the body. This release can strongly reinforce the act of taking the drug, making the user want to repeat the experience.
Learn About Prescription Drugs And Substance Abuse
Most people go to the doctor for legitimate medical reasons and are prescribed medication to manage a host of conditions. Most people take these medications as directed and stop when the course of medication is over. However, some individuals come to like the effects of certain types of prescription medications and continue using these drugs in a manner other than intended by the physician.
Prescription drug abuse is the usage of prescription medications in a way not intended by the prescribing physician for the effects produced by taking the drug. Prescription drug abuse includes acts such as using a loved ones prescription pain killers to relieve symptoms of a particularly brutal migraine. Others may crush up the prescription medications and snort them or dilute the powdered drug in water for injection to obtain a strong high or rush. The most common classes of prescription drugs that are abused include prescription painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety agents, and stimulants.
Anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives, including Xanax, Valium, and Ambien, are prescribed to individuals who are struggling with anxiety or sleep disorders. Individuals who abuse these drugs often report doing so in order to counteract the effects of stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine, or to increase intoxication by mixing them with other downers such as alcohol or opioid narcotics.
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What Does It Mean To Be Addicted
When taking a drug for an extended period of time, the body can develop a physical dependence on the drug. This means that the body doesnt function in the same way when use is paused or ended. Abruptly quitting a stimulant drug after a long-standing period of abuse will almost certainly result in withdrawal symptoms .
Addiction to prescription stimulants is also often marked by severe lifestyle changes. For example, an addict may not feel able to meet simple, everyday responsibilities such as work or family obligations without using the drug. They may also suffer from intense feelings of anxiety or dread at the thought that they might be forced to stop taking the substance.
Beside these anxieties and fears, previously positive activities, like hobbies or spending time with friends, may no longer feel worthwhile. For an addicted person, it may seem that use is essential to daily functioning or even happiness, making it very difficult to stop.
America Is Stressed Out
Perhaps the simplest explanation for the increase in substance abuse in America is our collective mental state. Several employee surveys have shown that American workers are struggling with high levels of stress and anxiety related to job security, income and the threat of discrimination.
A 2015 study conducted by the American Psychological Association , measuring stress on a scale from one-10 found that the average stress level for Americans stood at 5.1, a slight increase from the year before. Of those surveyed, nearly one-quarter reported extreme stress. Since introducing the survey in 2007, the APA has consistently found that money and work were the top two sources of stress reported among Americans. The survey also found that 61 percent of adults reported experiencing unfair treatment on a day-to-day basis and that it resulted in higher levels of stress.
Another survey, which included 500 American workers, revealed that 90 percent of workers were stressed out about finances. More than 50 percent of those surveyed reported moderate or significant stress. There are many reasons why people choose to abuse drugs or alcohol, but few have the same impact of stress.
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Opiate Effects And Abuse
Opiates produce euphoric and tranquil effects when taken in amounts that are larger than prescribed. The pleasant, care-free feelings a person experiences when taking these drugs are often what leads to destructive patterns of abuse.
Opiate addiction is often characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. For example, in an attempt to obtain more of the drug, a person may visit multiple doctors in order to get new prescriptions, otherwise known as doctor shopping.
The pathological urges to use these drugs can also drive people to borrow, buy, or steal the drugs from friends and family. As an act of desperation, some individuals may resort to seeking out Heroin, an illegal Opioid that is commonly purchased on the streets. Despite the well-known dangers of Heroin, it is often easier and cheaper to obtain than Opioid pills.
In a 2014 survey, 94 percent of respondents said they chose to use Heroin over prescription Painkillers because it was cheaper and easier to get.
Withdrawal Inhibits Recovery From Heroin Addiction
Individuals who are dependent on heroin commonly take the drug to stave off uncomfortable heroin withdrawal symptoms. Rather than using the drug to get high, they take it to avoid feeling dope sick.
Heroin withdrawal is rarely deadly, but its often described as the most miserable type of drug withdrawal. It lasts longer than withdrawal from cocaine and meth. Its shorter than alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal, but the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal are often described as worse.
Few people are capable of getting through heroin withdrawal without treatment. If they do, they often lack the tools and resources necessary for avoiding relapse.
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Prescription Drug Abuse In The Elderly
Last Updated February 2021 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Kyle Bradford Jones
Prescription drug abuse is when people misuse prescribed medicines. They may abuse their own medicine in a way that is not instructed by the doctor. This includes taking more medicine than they need or taking it when they dont need it. Or they may abuse a prescription that is meant for someone else. Prescription drug abuse also can occur when people mix medicine with alcohol or other drugs.
Prescription drug abuse is a term that refers to the improper use of medicines that are categorized as controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Examples include medicines that doctors prescribe to treat pain, anxiety, or sleep. This can lead to serious problems, such as drug interactions, addiction, or even overdose. A drug interaction occurs when two or more drugs react with each other. It could make drugs less effective or cause harmful side effects.
Most prescription drugs are safe and effective when you follow your doctors directions for how to take the medicine.
Effects Of Prescription Drug Addiction
The effects of prescription drug abuse are far-reaching and depend upon a number of variables. The most common long-term effects of prescription drug abuse include the following:
- Social isolation
- Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities
- Labile moods
- Worsening of physical and mental illnesses
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities at work or home
Effects of Prescription Painkiller Abuse:
- Respiratory depression
- Increased risk for HIV/AIDS and other bloodborne pathogens
Effects of Stimulant Abuse:
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How Common Is Prescription Pain Medication Addiction
Opioids are prescription pain medications such as oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl. Opioids are also illicit drugs such as heroin. Besides fighting pain, opioids produce euphoria. As a result, they are commonly abused.;
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, in 2018, over 10 million Americans 12 and over misused opioids. Specifically, prescription pain medication was misused by 9.7 million people. Furthermore, almost 800,000 people used heroin.;
What Are The Other Health Effects Of Opioid Medications
Older adults are at higher risk of accidental misuse or abuse because they typically have multiple prescriptions and chronic diseases, increasing the risk of drug-drug and drug-disease interactions, as well as a slowed metabolism that affects the breakdown of drugs. Sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug use can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and from unprotected sex.
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Why Are Prescription Drugs Abused
Prescription medication nowadays is commonly abused and there are many reasons this happens. These mood-altering drugs affect the brain by encouraging it to release the feel-good hormone dopamine. It is easy to build up a tolerance to this medication, which means that the effects are lessened. As the body gets used to the presence of the medication, the brain will release fewer feel-good chemicals in response.
The result of this is that the individual often feels as though the medication is no longer working as it should. Many people are then tempted to increase their dosage when this occurs, while others begin taking it more frequently when they feel the effects wear off.
Taking medication prescribed for another person is another frequent problem. Most people do not realise the dangers in doing this. They assume that if a certain medication worked for a problem this person had, then it will be okay for them to take it for a similar medical condition.
In the case of prescription painkillers, this is a massive problem. It is extremely common for individuals who have been prescribed prescription pain medication to give it to a family member or friend who is struggling with any kind of pain.
This means that while a certain prescription drug might be appropriate for one person, it could be completely unsuitable, or even dangerous, for another person to take.
Understanding Drug Abuse And Addiction
People from all walks of life can experience problems with their drug use, regardless of age, race, background, or the reason they started using drugs in the first place. Some people experiment with recreational drugs out of curiosity, to have a good time, because friends are doing it, or to ease problems such as stress, anxiety, or depression.
However, its not just illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, that can lead to abuse and addiction. Prescription medications such as painkillers, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers can cause similar problems. In fact, next to marijuana, prescription painkillers are the most abused drugs in the U.S. and more people die from overdosing powerful opioid painkillers each day than from traffic accidents and gun deaths combined. Addiction to opioid painkillers can be so powerful it has become the major risk factor for heroin abuse.
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Can Addiction Come Back
Substance use disorder is a relapsing disease. People who are in recovery from this disease have a higher chance of using drugs again. Recurrence can happen even years after you last took drugs.
Because of the possibility of relapse, you need ongoing treatment. Your healthcare provider should review your treatment plan with you and change it based on your changing needs. If you have a problem with prescription drugs, including opioids, inform your healthcare providers. They can help you find other options to manage pain.
Overcoming A Prescription Drug Addiction
The reasons why prescription drug abuse must be recognised are plentiful. It is easy to see the damage that can be caused to individuals and their family members when such an illness spirals out of control. Treatment is available for prescription drug addiction, but one of the largest obstacles is the fact that many people with such a problem fail to recognise it in themselves.
Accepting a diagnosis of addiction is never easy but it can be particularly tough for those who have never abused an illegal drug in their life. To then be classed as a drug addict is something that they will not want to accept.
Nonetheless, it is important to realise that drugs are not all illegal and that addiction can occur with abuse of prescription medication. It is also vital that you do come to terms with this issue if you are to get help. The only way to move forward is to tackle the problem head on, and this may mean undergoing a drug detox and programme of rehabilitation.
The good news is that you are not alone; there are countless individuals across the UK who have found themselves in a similar situation to yours. Here at Middlegate, we have already helped many people with prescription drug addictions to find a programme where they are working to overcome their illness for good.
- FREE Advice Including NHS & Private Options
- Trained Professional Telephone Counsellors
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Current Prevalence Of Drug Use And Abuse In America
Being that drugs are illegal and many individuals are not likely to openly speak about their drug habits, determining the exact scope of drug use in the U.S. is nearly impossible. There are, however, several surveys, studies and reports that suggest that American drug use is extremely high, perhaps even approaching historic levels.,,,,,
While we now know more than ever about the dangers of drug abuse, it appears that this knowledge has failed to act as a deterrent. Heroin use and overdoses have skyrocketed, more people are using and abusing prescription drugs than ever before and the rise of synthetic drugs has created a potentially more dangerous threat.
How To Get Help For Drug Abuse
If you or a loved one needs help for drug abuse, professional help is recommended. Withdrawal and detox can be unpleasant, difficult processes no one should have to experience alone. If youre ready to get help for drug addiction, trust professionals with the experience and knowledge to make a long-lasting impact on your life. Professional intervention is found to prevent relapse more than transitioning into sobriety on your own.
Injecting Snorting & Smoking Increase Addiction Risk
Heroin is an opioid, and most opioids affect the brain in the same way. So why do many people say heroin is more addictive? Most people smoke, snort or shoot heroin. These methods of administration have more immediate effects on the brain than swallowing a drug, according to the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah.
Many prescription drugs have formulas that make pills difficult to crush and snort or to melt and inject. When a person swallows a pill, the medication goes through the stomach and liver, where its slowly absorbed into the bloodstream. The brain gradually feels the drug over time.
But when a person smokes, injects or snorts a drug, it can reach the brain in seconds. The brain is more likely to become addicted to a drug when the full dose of the drug enters the brain all at once. Heroin is rarely swallowed in a pill, so its more likely to cause addiction because its almost always used in high-risk ways.
Is There Treatment For Prescription Drug Addiction
Treatment for opioid addiction includes medications that can help people get control without a high chance of addiction.
Buprenorphine treats opiate withdrawal and dependence. Doctors often use it along with the drug naloxone to prevent relapse.
If youâve been taking buprenorphine in pill form and your body has gotten rid of all of the drug you were abusing, you might have another form of buprenorphine implanted under your skin. This is called Probuphine. It provides a constant dose of buprenorphine for 6 months. Buprenorphine also comes as a monthly shot called Sublocade.
Other drug treatments for opiate withdrawal include methadone and the blood pressure medicine clonidine. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates and can prevent a relapse. It can be taken orally or as a monthly injection .
Doctors recommend that people who misuse opioids keep naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose. It comes in a shot and a nasal spray .
Experts believe that âmedication-assisted treatmentâ with methadone, naltrexone, or suboxone and cognitive behavioral therapy is the best treatment for most patients who have an opioid addiction.
Counseling is the most common treatment for addiction to CNS depressants or stimulants. You might also need to detoxify your body under a doctorâs care.
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