Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in America, with a wide range of prescription medications misused on a daily basis.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 48 million people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some point in their life.
This figure represents roughly 20 percent of the US population. Commonly abused prescription drugs include opioids like OxyContin, central nervous system depressants like Xanax, and stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin.
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Prescription drug abuse is defined as the misuse or over use of prescription medications. For example, someone may use more than the prescribed dose of a particular medication, with opioids commonly abused in this way to induce feelings of euphoria.
In another misuse scenario, users may administer a drug in a different way than intended, with some people crushing up tablets so they can snort or inject medications instead of taking an oral dose.
Addiction to pharmaceutical drugs affects people from all walks of life, with drug rehab programs the best way to treat all aspects of withdrawal and recovery.
Prescriptions for opioid medications have greatly increased since the 1990s, with medications typically prescribed for pain relief. Drugs in this class include oxycodone, hydrocodone, meperidine, hydromorphone, codeine and morphine.
Opioid drugs are very effective in treating chronic pain, and are also commonly prescribed to treat the acute pain associated with things like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and pain following surgery.
While opioids do not cause many adverse physical effects when used alone, overdose is possible with large doses or when drugs are used in combination with central nervous system depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium are commonly abused, with these drugs prescribed mostly to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. While the short-term use of benzodiazepine drugs is not thought to cause any adverse effects, large doses and long-term use can lead to addiction and a range of physical problems.
Overdose and even death is possible from benzodiazepine use, especially when combined with alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Barbiturates are also CNS depressants, with drugs like Nembutal and Mebaral prescribed to treat seizures, insomnia and anxiety.
Barbiturate abuse is a common problem in the United States, with tolerance likely and withdrawal seizures possible upon cessation of use.
Stimulant drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin are also commonly abused, with these amphetamines used legitimately to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, narcolepsy, and other problems.
While these drugs are safe when taken under medical supervision for their intended purpose, the over use and misuse of stimulants can cause a range of physical and psychological problems.
Common signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse include taking larger doses than prescribed, seeking out prescriptions more often, and taking medication for different reasons than intended. Pharmaceutical drug abuse may also cause mood swings, anxiety, depression and agitation, along with changes to sleep and behavior patterns.
The type of drug rehab treatment that a patient receives depends greatly on the substance in question, with drugs like methadone, buprenorphine, naloxone and naltrexone sometimes taken to help addicts stay drug free. In general, most professionals recommend entering a professional medical detoxification facility, followed by a long-term stay in a residential drug rehab program and relapse prevention support.