How Are Prescription Drugs Abused?

There are a lot of misconceptions about prescription drugs. A doctor prescribes them for a reason. They have specific directions for use; and if they aren’t taken according to instructions, there can be serious problems. A lot of people believe that prescription drugs aren’t addictive and aren’t as dangerous as street drugs, but this isn’t the case.

Forms of Prescription Drug Abuse

Misusing prescription drugs either by taking them in a manner other than the way they’re prescribed or by taking someone else’s prescription drugs to get high, can have serious consequences. When taking prescription medications as recreational drugs, some people crush a capsule or pill and snort the medication. Others use larger doses of the medication.

If you’re taking a friend’s or relative’s drugs for pain, to help you with studying for exams, or to lose weight, you may think it’s quite innocent, but these are forms of prescription drug abuse. In addition to causing serious health problems, abuse of prescription drugs is illegal, and that includes sharing them.

Prescription Drugs That Are Commonly Abused

Pain medications such as Vicodin, anti-depressants like Valium, and stimulants are the prescription drugs that people most commonly abuse. Many people even use over-the-counter cough medications or antihistamines as drugs. These can also be dangerous and cause blood pressure to rise and heart rate to increase.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Prescription drugs are prescribed according to a person’s medical history and other medications they may be taking. Drug interactions or overdoses could cause a coma, seizures, or death.

How drugs work may be impacted by how you consume them. For example, crushing the pill and taking a dose all at once that’s designed to be absorbed into the blood stream over a period of 12 hours could cause an overdose. The risk of getting addicted increases by taking a drug this way.

Taking a prescription drug that’s for a specific condition can still have side effects. Some of the more-dangerous side effects are increased heart rate or blood pressure, drowsiness, or a change in breathing. Combining a prescription drug with another drug, an over-the-counter medication, or alcohol, could be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. Your breathing could slow to a dangerous level, or you could stop breathing.

Abuse by Teens

More than 2,000 teens in the United States abuse prescription drugs each day, and the majority of them are between 12 and 17 years old. Nearly 15 percent of all high school seniors have abused prescription drugs. Statistics shows that teens who use prescription drugs for recreational use are more likely to experiment with other types of drugs.

Most teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from a relative who has a prescription, without them being aware of it. Some teens get them from their friends, and sometimes they buy them on the street.

Prescription Drugs and Addiction

Some prescription drugs can be addictive, but it depends on what they’re designed to treat. Possible misuse is the reason that a person should be in the care of a doctor when taking prescription drugs, especially pain medications. Over a long period, a person may need a larger dose of the medication to alleviate pain. When you stop taking the drug, it can cause withdrawal symptoms.

If you suspect that a family member or friend may have a problem with prescription drugs, resources are available. Contact a helpline or treatment facility immediately to get advice.

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