The Process And Effects Of Prescription Abuse
Prescription drugs are chemical substances that are issued by qualified medical personnel with use instruction for treatment of a variety of ailments or diseases. Unlike recreational and hard drugs, prescription drugs are made solely for their medicinal value and are always given with a prescription (instructions on how to take them in regard to dosages, intervals of doses, what to avoid when taking them and for how long the drugs should be taken for.
Drugs are chemical substances which alter the chemical composition of body’s cells and consequently alter how these cells function. Drugs are classified into many categories depending on a number of factors.
Medicinal or recreation
Some drugs (prescription medications) are used to treat illnesses and are widely and legally available and their use is regulated with instructions. Other drugs are non prescription and can be classified as recreational drugs. Recreational drugs are used for leisure and not for medicinal value. Some recreational drugs are legal such as alcohol and cigarettes, while other such as marijuana, crack cocaine and crystal meth among other are mostly banned in most countries.
Effects on the body and mind
Under this category, drugs are classified into: stimulants, depressants and psychedelics. Stimulants speed up the body’s activity, depressants slow the functioning of the brain and the central nervous system while psychedelics (also called hallucinogens) distort thinking.
Under this, drugs are categorized under the specific means of administration into the body such as:
- Sublingual – placing the drug under the tongue to be absorbed into the blood stream by the thin tongue tissues
- Smoking – drugs that are smoked are burned and then the inhaled through the mouth into the lungs from where they are absorbed into the blood stream by the thin lung and alveoli tissues
- Insufflation – also called snorting the drug. This is administering the drug into the body by inhaling the powder form of a drug into the nostrils from where the powder is absorbed into the blood stream from the thin nasal tissues
- Orally – drugs taken orally may be in form of solid (tablets/ pills, capsules) or liquid/ syrup form and they are swallowed into the stomach from the mouth. Once in the stomach, the drugs undergo the normal digestion process and when in the small intestines, the drug is absorbed slowly into the blood stream
- Injection – this is the administration of liquid drug through a syringe and needle directly into the muscles( known as intramuscular) or into the veins (known as intravenous)
Drugs are also classified according to their genetic names.
Prescription drug abuse
Prescription drugs fall under all categories as the illnesses that need to be treated vary. As such, some are depressants; used to suppress a cough, slow bodily activity, numb pain, induce sleep and hence rest to people who are traumatized etc.
Other prescription drugs are stimulants; used to treat attention deficit disorders, asthma and obesity among others while yet others fall under the hallucinogens class. Some prescription drugs are very strong and potent while others are mild and thus have less effects and side effects in the body and mind.
Mild prescription drugs include acetaminophen and most cough suppressants while more potent prescription drugs; used to manage moderate to severe pain and stress, attention deficit disorder, cancer symptoms, HIV/ AIDS, heart ailments, lung diseases etc. are buprenorphine, Hydrocodone, methadone, Vicodin/ Fentanyl, Suboxone, subutex, Tramadol, Demerol, Lortab, heroin, morphine, pure forms of cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, MDMA and Ritalin.
These drugs are abused in the following manner:
- Taking the drugs against instructions or without adhering fully to the prescription instructions
- Taking higher quantities of the drug, more frequently than prescribed
- Using the drug together with other substances which may interact with it to increase its effects
- Using the drugs for other reasons other than treating the specific ailment meant for
- Altering the form of the drug to administer it in a different manner into the body to increase the speed in which the drug is delivered into the blood stream, increase the time the effects last in the body as well as intensity the effects
Abuse of prescription drugs is accelerated by:
- Availability of the drug
- Less legal restriction placed on the possession and use of these drugs
- The drugs are less costly than their counterpart hard and illegal drugs yet they still deliver the same effects
Different prescription drugs are abused for different reasons/ effects.
Depressants, mostly prescribed for management of pain and stress reduction, are abused for their effects of: slowing the body processes, inducing drowsiness and numbing pain. The most abused drugs in this category are: all buprenorphine compounds (subutex and Suboxone), morphine, Hydrocodone, oxycodone and Fentanyl.
Stimulants, mostly prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit disorders an asthma because they increase the speed of body processes, are abused because: they increase body temperature and sensitivity as well as induce grand thoughts of being invincible, extremely positive etc. Examples are: Ritalin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Hallucinogen/ psychedelics, mostly prescribed for treating mental illnesses, are abused for their mind altering characteristic.
Prescription abuse effects
Abuse of prescription drugs can increase drug tolerance in the body and mind which will make them resistance to the drug; reducing greatly the effectiveness of that drug (and all drugs in general)to treat illnesses. Increased tolerance is the reduced response exhibited by the body and mind to the drug and it forces one to take higher amounts of the drug to get the same intensity of the drug effects.
Dependence and addiction
Increased tolerance, if not checked, can lead to physical dependence and addiction (a compulsion for the drug characterized by withdrawal if usage of the drug is stopped or reduced). Addiction, regardless of the drug type, causes physical, mental and social suffering to the individual and the general public. It can also lead to an overdose and ultimately death.