Understanding Prescription Drug Addiction

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What is Prescription Drug addiction?

Some prescription drugs have mind-altering (psychoactive) properties and therefore can be sought after by an addicted person. Prescription drug addiction happens when a drug is prescribed by a doctor and is not taken is the dosages prescribed.  It can also occur if a prescription is used by a person that was not issued the prescription. Addiction happens when the user can no longer control their need for the drug physically and/or mentally.

The list of prescription drugs include-

  • Opioids: Fentanyl (Duragesic®), Hydrocodone (Vicodin®), Oxycodone (OxyContin®), Oxymorphone (Opana®), Propoxyphene (Darvon®), Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), Meperidine (Demerol®), Diphenoxylate (Lomotil®),
  • Depressants (Benzodiazepines): Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®), Diazepam (Valium®), Alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • Stimulants: Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), Methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®), Amphetamines (Adderall®)

Mis-use of over-the-counter drugs that contain Dextroamphetamine (DXM) found in cold and cough medicines, can also be abused and produce very dangerous effects.

What are the signs of Prescription Drug addiction?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs of prescription drug addiction can include:

Opioid Pain Killer Abuse Symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Euphoria – feeling high
  • Slowed Rate of Breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Poor Coordination
  • Increased Pain with higher doses of medication

Sedative and Anti-Anxiety Medication Abuse Symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Unsteady walking
  • Slurred Speach
  • Poor Concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems

Stimulant Abuse Symptoms:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Agitation
  • High body temperature
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

Other signs of Prescription Drug Addiction can include:

  • Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Excessive mood swings or hostility
  • Increase or decrease in sleep
  • Poor decision-making
  • Appearing to be high, unusually energetic or revved up, or sedated
  • Continually “losing” prescriptions, so more prescriptions must be written
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor

What does Prescription Drug addiction do to the body?

Opioids can make the user feel sleepy, sick to their stomach, and constipated. At higher doses, opioids can make it difficult to breathe correctly and can cause overdose and/or death.

Stimulants can make the user feel paranoid. It also can cause their body temperature to get dangerously high and make their heart beat too fast. This is especially likely if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than swallowing a pill.

Depressants can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, sleepiness, disorientation, and lack of coordination. People who misuse depressants regularly and then stop suddenly may experience seizures. At higher doses depressants can also cause overdose and death, especially when combined with alcohol.

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