Prescription drugs can relieve pain and other symptoms of illness or injury, but they can also easily become abused. Do you think you or someone you know may be addicted and abusing?
When they’re taken the right way, prescription drugs are one of the most effective ways to manage chronic medical conditions or treat acute illnesses and injuries. When these medications are taken more often than prescribed or when they are taken in larger doses than recommended, serious health risks can be the result. If this act is intentional, it’s considered just as serious as alcohol or controlled substance abuse.
Those who abuse prescription drugs face an increased risk of overdosing or combining these drugs with alcohol or other drugs, which can be fatal. Other risks of prescription drug abuse include permanent heart and liver problems and serious withdrawal symptoms if drug use stops abruptly. With abuse of certain kinds of common prescription drugs on the rise, it’s important to know which prescription drugs are commonly abused and ways you can avoid becoming addicted.
Which Prescription Drugs Are Commonly Abused?
Some types of prescription drugs have a higher rate of abuse than others, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Through research, NIDA has identified the following as some of the most commonly abused prescription medications:
- Prescription opioids. Pain medications cause effects that are similar to heroin, including initial feelings of euphoria. Some of these drugs even contain codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone. Opioid abuse can cause confusion, drowsiness, constipation, and a slowed rate of breathing.
- Prescription sedatives. Sedatives can include tranquilizers and depressants, such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and sleep medications. They are usually prescriptions for sleep issues and anxiety disorders due to their calming effects on your brain. Sedative abuse can lead to coordination problems, trouble concentrating, slurred speech, decreased blood pressure, and memory problems.
- Prescription stimulants. Taking stimulants leads to improved attention, increased energy levels, and greater alertness, but also higher blood pressure. Prescription stimulants include amphetamines, such as Adderall, and methylphenidate medications, such as Ritalin. Long-term use can result in an increased risk of psychosis, paranoia, and other serious problems that affect mental and physical health.
Ways to Avoid Prescription Drug Abuse
If you take prescription drugs, it’s easy to become addicted and you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you start to feel like you can’t live without them. Just keep in mind that prevention is possible and that it’s never too late to ask for help. If you’re worried that you or a loved one could start abusing one of your prescriptions, these are some of the most effective ways to avoid it:
- Take your prescription only as was directed. Always follow the directions on your prescription label and your pharmacist’s instructions. Taking too much at once or taking medications more frequently than recommended can lead to a higher risk of prescription drug abuse.
- Beware drug and alcohol interactions. Certain prescription medications should not be taken with other kinds of medications or with alcohol. Combining these can cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. In some cases, combining a prescription medication with another drug can cause the prescription drug to lose its effectiveness and make you feel like you need to take more, thereby increasing the potential for abuse.
- Never take someone else’s medication. Using another person’s prescription medication is never considered safe. Even if you have the same symptoms or the same condition, you should only use medications that your doctor prescribes for you and you alone. Keep in mind that you should never let others use your medications either, since this can increase their risk of drug abuse.
- Go to a pharmacy you trust. Avoid purchasing medications from questionable sources, such as online vendors. Have prescriptions filled at a local pharmacy you trust and talk to the pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about your medications or a loved one’s medications.
If you need more information about ways to avoid prescription drug abuse, please contact Smith-Caldwell Drug Store at 501-392-5470. You can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline at 1-800-662-4357 if you need help now.