Prescription Abuse: Misusing Prescription Drugs
What are prescription drugs?
Prescription drugs are chemical substances which are given out with intake instructions, by qualified medical personnel to people; for the treatment of illnesses. These drugs range from mild to very strong prescription medications and their working mechanisms in the body and brain differ depending on the type of drug they are.
Where as most of these medications are available only with a doctor’s/ medical personnel’s qualifications, some are yet still available over the counter and the pharmacists dealing them are usually entrusted with the responsibility of giving intake instructions or labeling the containers which contain those drugs.
Drugs are generally classified into depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens. Each of these categories of drugs work in a different mechanism to heal the body and mind; to restore the normalcy in the body and mind.
Depressants are drugs which are used to treat over activity in the body and numb pain. This is because the drugs suppress the functioning of the central nervous system and the brain bringing about slowed automatic processes such as; heart beat, breathing, coughing, sweating, temperature etc. Depressants include cough suppressants, mild painkillers, drugs used to bring a fever down and drugs used to induce sleep in people who are suffering from mental illnesses; including stress and trauma.
Stimulants are prescribed to people whose bodies and minds function slower than normal. These types of drugs induce an increase in energy and mental alertness as well as increased sensitivity. These drugs are mostly used to treat attention deficit disorders in both adults and children.
Hallucinogenic drugs are rarely used as a prescription as depressants and stimulants alter cognitive functioning mildly. The only reason drugs would be used to alter thinking is person, as part of treatment, is when one’s thought system is functioning abnormally (being very overactive or under active).
Prescription drugs are available in pharmacies and hospitals and access to most of them, especially the mild drugs, is very easy. This makes unauthorized use of these drugs very prominent as people take the drugs without or against the prescribed instruction for reasons other than the treatment of whatever ailment the drugs are meant for. In other words, taking more of the drug, more frequently than intended and for the wrong reasons comprises abuse.
Some people abuse the drugs unconsciously, when they assume that all drugs can be used to treat similar symptoms while others do it consciously to experience the effects of the drugs.
Reasons for prescription abuse:
This type of abuse is quite hazardous in that the drugs cannot be banned, as they are provided for treatment. Prescription misuse is quite widespread because:
- The drugs offer the same effects to the body and mind as hard drugs of their own categories
- They are available and cost less
- There is no ban or prohibition against taking them
Impacts of prescription medication abuse
All drugs, whether hard or prescription drugs, affect the functioning of the body and mind by increasing, slowing or distorting these functions. Abuse, which is unregulated intake of the drug to maximize on the effects of these drugs, has negative impacts to the individual, their loved ones and dependants, the larger society and their economy.
Prescription drug abuse affects people in the following ways:
- The particular individual abusing prescription drugs, whether stimulants or depressants, ends up affected to a point that they can no longer take care of themselves and have to be taken care of; being a burden to others
- Prescription abusers, under the influence of the drugs, can harm themselves or others emotionally and physically, hence being a threat to themselves and others
- The habit is financially depleting to the individuals buying these drugs or the people from whom the person is stealing the drugs from
- Physical and emotional suffering is experienced by the individual abusing prescription drugs as they mess up with the functioning of the body and mind, causing unnecessary dysfunctions
- This abuse can lead to increased tolerance for the drug, by the user; which means that the drug may no longer be able to heal the ailments its supposed to heal
- Increased tolerance, developing from abuse of prescription drugs, can lead to physical dependence and addiction; then the person will be hooked to the drug unless an intervention or other measure is taken to get them off
- Prescription abuse, whether one is addicted or not, can lead to an overdose; a situation whereby drug levels reach lethal levels causing the body organs to shut down which can lead to permanent damage/ disability or even death.
Controlling prescription medication abuse
It may not always be easy to prevent this form of substance abuse but the following measures will go a great deal in curbing the habit:
- Keep all prescription drugs away from the reach of children who may take them unknowingly and also away from people who have a history of substance abuse
- Read all instructions on the container with the drugs and follow (to the letter) all the instructions given by a medical personnel to you in regard to the safe intake of the drug
- In case of a missed dose, contact a doctor on what to do if you have no idea what to do. Alternatively, follow the general rule of taking the missed dose as soon as you remember, but if its too close to the next dose, skip it and take the next dose, and then resume regular intake
* Important Note
If you ever suspect an overdose, immediately seek emergency medical attention.