The Two Types of Prescription Drug Abuse

Types Of Prescription Drug Abuse - Freedom From Addiction

Prescription drug abuse is something that is often overlooked in this country, for instead talking about the surge of illegal drug abuse. There are two types of prescription drug abusers: there are those who are prescribed medication for conditions like ADHD, anxiety, or pain who end up taking more than prescribed to them by their physician; and there are those who are not prescribed medication, but purchase it illegally and abuse it.

According to recent research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 20% of the population aged 12 and older, are using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Prescription drug abuse is dangerous, and, in the cases where people are taking medications that are not prescribed to them, illegal. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids for pain, such as oxycodone, Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, such as Xanax or Valium, used to help anxiety or sleep disorders, and CNS Stimulants such as Adderall, prescribed for ADD, ADHD, and Narcolepsy.

According to recent research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 20% of the population aged 12 and older, are using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Prescription drug abuse is dangerous, and, in the cases where people are taking medications that are not prescribed to them, illegal. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids for pain, such as oxycodone, Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, such as Xanax or Valium, used to help anxiety or sleep disorders, and CNS Stimulants such as Adderall, prescribed for ADD, ADHD, and Narcolepsy.Painkillers, including but not limited to Percocet, Morphine, Hydrocodone, and OxyContin are medications with a high potential for abuse. While these medications are prescribed to help people cope with pain often caused by a significant injury or surgery, this class of drug produces a short-term feeling of euphoria. Those who take more than they are prescribed have the potential to become physiologically dependent on the drug, and thus will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking them. Often when one is addicted to this type of medication, and their doctor will no longer prescribe them, they utilize other means to get more i.e. “Doctor shop” or attempt to buy them illegally or get them from friends or family members. Many who are unable to get more, turn to other opioids like heroin which has a similar effect at a much lower monetary cost.

Painkillers, including but not limited to Percocet, Morphine, Hydrocodone, and OxyContin are medications with a high potential for abuse. While these medications are prescribed to help people cope with pain often caused by a significant injury or surgery, this class of drug produces a short-term feeling of euphoria. Those who take more than they are prescribed have the potential to become physiologically dependent on the drug, and thus will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking them. Often when one is addicted to this type of medication, and their doctor will no longer prescribe them, they utilize other means to get more i.e. “Doctor shop” or attempt to buy them illegally or get them from friends or family members. Many who are unable to get more, turn to other opioids like heroin which has a similar effect at a much lower monetary cost.

Another highly prescribed and abused drug are Central Nervous System Stimulants used to treat the symptoms of ADD/ADHD such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta. These Prescription drugs, while balancing out the chemicals in the brain for those with ADD/ADHD are methamphetamines and are commonly referred to as “Speed”. Abuse of prescription stimulants like Adderall can result in increased heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. Continued abuse, especially in high doses, can lead to medical issues and increase the risk of stroke, seizure, or heart attack.

Another highly prescribed and abused drug are Central Nervous System Stimulants used to treat the symptoms of ADD/ADHD such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta. These Prescription drugs, while balancing out the chemicals in the brain for those with ADD/ADHD are methamphetamines and are commonly referred to as “Speed”. Abuse of prescription stimulants like Adderall can result in increased heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. Continued abuse, especially in high doses, can lead to medical issues and increase the risk of stroke, seizure, or heart attack.Benzodiazepines, which are medications used to treat anxiety and panic disorder such as Xanax and Valium are another category of prescription drugs that are commonly abused.

These drugs produce a calming effect on the brain and the CNS. With this type of medication, it is easy to develop a tolerance, which means someone would need to take more and more to achieve the desired effect. Even an individual who is taking their medication correctly (read: as prescribed), can develop a tolerance. Tolerance can lead to abuse of the medication and eventually substance use disorder (or addiction).

Benzodiazepines, which are medications used to treat anxiety and panic disorder such as Xanax and Valium are another category of prescription drugs that are commonly abused. Theses drugs produce a calming effect on the brain and the CNS. With this type of medication, it is easy to develop a tolerance, which means someone would need to take more and more to achieve the desired effect. Even an individual who is taking their medication correctly (read: as prescribed), can develop a tolerance. Tolerance can lead to abuse of the medication and eventually substance use disorder (or addiction).If you believe you or a loved one might be abusing or addicted to prescription medication, please reach out to us at Freedom from Addiction for additional information and for how to seek help.

If you believe you or a loved one might be abusing or addicted to prescription medication, please reach out to us at Freedom from Addiction for additional information and for how to seek help.––Liz Hankin is a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern awaiting licensure in the state of Florida. Ms. Hankin is a Doctoral candidate from Alliant International University, formerly the California School of Professional Psychology, in Irvine, California. She completed her Master’s in Couples and Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Over the past, 5 years, Ms. Hankin has provided individual, group and family therapy services for families affected by drug and alcohol addiction, Autism Spectrum Disorder and learning disabilities as well as oncology and reunification services. She specializes in Solution-Focused Therapy, and has experience working with clients with co-morbid anxiety, depression and grief as well as with general therapy.

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