The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that approximately 48 million people over the age of 12 have admitted to taking prescription medications for non-medical reasons at some point during their lives. Some become addicted to the habit. Addiction might also occur when a person is prescribed a narcotic medication for specific reasons. Healthcare providers, law enforcement officials and addiction specialists report that prescription drug abuse is an ever-increasing problem in the country. Addiction or recreational use of prescription medications has led to accidental overdoses, which have increased the number of people admitted to emergency rooms. Unfortunately, some don’t survive. More and more are also recognizing the dangers and are seeking professional help from treatment centers to overcome addictions.
Prescription Medications Commonly Abused
There are three classifications of drugs that are typically in high demand for the purpose of recreational use. Central nervous system depressants are used to treat anxiety, depression or sleep disorders. This classification includes Ativan, Klonopin, Valium and Xanax. When combined with alcohol, certain over-the-counter medications or other prescription drugs that also act as CNS depressants, an overdose can easily occur. Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing slow to extremely dangerous levels that may lead to unconsciousness, coma or death.
Opioid analgesics are generally prescribed to manage moderate to severe pain. Medications in this category include Demerol, Dilaudid, Morphine, OxyContin and Vicodin. When taken inappropriately, taken in large doses or combined with CNS depressants, these medications may also lead to an overdose.
In place of cocaine, drug abusers often turn to Adderall or Ritalin, which are stimulants prescribed to treat patients diagnosed with attention deficit disorder or sleep disorders. Taken in high doses, users may suffer a heart attack or stroke.
Symptoms of Drug Dependence
Addiction describes someone who depends on a particular narco pill to feel normal. Abusers often crave the substance between doses. Drug-seeking behavior begins, as patients complain of non-existent symptoms to healthcare providers in order to get renewed or stronger prescriptions. Individuals may start seeing more than one physician, or may begin using more than one pharmacy to satisfy the need. Addicts may steal prescriptions from family members or friends. Addicts might also steal items or money to support the dependency.
Addicts continue using the narco pill of choice despite any negative consequences involved in getting or taking the medication. Relationships fall apart, irresponsible behavior develops and users may put themselves in situations that cause legal or physical harm. An addict may begin having mood swings from altered brain chemistry or out of frustration when a drug isn’t available.
Science of Chemical Addiction
Some may turn to prescription medications to get high, believing that a narco pill is safer than street drugs. However, these substances affect the brain and body in very similar ways. Addiction is highly possible. Prescription medications and illegal drugs attach to certain receptors in the brain that regulate neurotransmitting chemical release. Addicts may abuse drugs for the feelings experienced when receptors release elevated levels of dopamine, endorphins, norepinephrine or serotonin. The body compensates for these abnormal amounts of chemicals by producing less or reducing the number of receptors. People then take more of the drugs to get the same feelings. Soon, a vicious cycle develops that becomes addiction.