Dangers of Prescription Drug Addiction
Drugs are chemical substances (naturally occurring or man made – from a combination of naturally occurring substances or other synthetic substances) which alter the chemical composition of the body at the cellular level. Drugs have different means of administration into the body, different working mechanisms in the body and mind, different effects on the same, availability and legal restrictions.
Prescription drugs or medications are drugs (chemical substances) whose intake into the body is geared towards eliminating disease-causing-pathogens and restoring the body and mind’s normal functions. These drugs are issued by qualified personnel with dosage instructions of how much should be taken, at what intervals, which means of administration into the body and for what period of time.
Prescription medications can be used to treat simple discomforts in the body and mind such as a cough, fever, headaches, mild body aches or ailments such as typhoid, Malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis etc, while some are only meant for very serious illnesses that affect the body and mind such as: anesthesia used to numb very severe pains during surgery, drugs used to reduce the effect of cancer and HIV/AIDS, heart and lung ailments etc.
One of the most important drug classifications is according to the effects they have on the body and mind and under this classification are stimulants (speed up brain and CNS activity), depressants (slow brain and CNS activity) and hallucinogens (alter thinking).
- Abuse of prescription drugs include:
- Taking higher dosages (quantities and intervals)
- Taking the drugs for any other reason(s) other than treatment of the specific ailment the drug is supposed to
- Administering the drug in a different means than prescribed. For instance, if tablets are supposed to be placed as a suppository or swallowed, crushing the tablets to inhale the powder or dissolve it in liquid to inject it is abuse because these means will deliver the drug into the bloodstream faster than intended; which might cause the unintended intensity of effects
- Using the drug together with other substances is abuse as these substances may react adversely with the drug; to intensify/reduce drug effects. They may also form a compound more toxic substance than the original drug alone
Specific prescription abuse
Stimulant drugs speed up brain and CNS function which increased body energy, aggressive mood, mental awareness and increased alertness. Such drugs are used to treat attention deficit disorders as well as boost energy in slow functioning organs such as the liver, kidneys, heart etc. Stimulant drugs include: methamphetamine, cocaine and Ritalin. People who abuse these drugs aim at intensifying the euphoric experience induced by the drugs.
Dangers of stimulant abuse
Prolonged abuse of stimulants results in high blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, aggressiveness, loss of weight, panting, digestive complications, schizophrenia etc. The worst that can happen is an overdose; which can lead to permanent organ failure, permanent disability or even death.
Depressant drugs slow the functioning of the brain and central nervous system; reducing the tempo of automatic body processes such as: digestion, respiration, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure, kidney and liver functions etc. They also induce dizziness and drowsiness which affects thought processes; inhibiting concentration.
These drugs are used to suppress coughs, bring fevers down, reduce organ over activity, numb pain (mild or severe) etc. and they include: morphine, buprenorphine and all its compounds, etc.
Dangers of abusing depressants
Depressant abuse distorts the body and mind’s response to the drugs and with time, the drugs will cease to be effective in treating whatever ailment it is they should be treating. This increased tolerance makes the body and mind prone to destruction (by the disease since the drugs are no longer effective).
This is called increased tolerance and it forces one to take higher quantities of the drug or change the medication. Chances of the other medication also failing are high because the body and mind functioning mechanisms have been interfered with.
Depressant abuse can also result in physical dependence and addiction – which is hard to get off; unless with very severe intervention. Abuse can easily lead to an overdose where the organs fail completely, lead to cardiac arrest or even death.
Prescription drugs are widely and easily available plus they cost way less than their counterpart hard drugs. They produce the same physical and mental effects as hard drugs except with less intensity. To amplify the effects of the prescription drugs, people resort to abusing these drugs to intensify their effects
The real danger in prescription abuse is the fact that most people do not even believe that the drugs can cause any real harm. The habit can however develop into addiction after the body and mind has increased tolerance and developed physical dependence.
Tolerance for prescription drugs is when the body and mind have developed a reduced response to the drug or medication due to prolonged (and almost always unregulated) use of the drug. Earlier amounts of the drug are no longer effective in treating ailment and higher quantities of the drugs are needed.
Increased tolerance leads to physical dependence which develops into addiction; mental and physical compulsion for the drug characterized by withdrawal symptoms when an attempt to quit the drug is done.
Prescription addiction treatment
Addiction to prescription drugs has to be treated to avoid the many lurking dangers (overdose, death, permanent physical and mental disability, social disintegration etc.) behind the habit. Treatment of prescription addiction should start with a gradual withdrawal of the drug in question.
Abrupt withdrawal of the drug should be done slowly to avoid triggering severe withdrawal symptoms. Addiction treatment will often involve the use of a medication to treat the withdrawal symptoms of the drug the patient is addicted to.