Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Prescription Drugs Overview

prescription-drug-bottlesWhen used properly, prescription drugs are very helpful to those who need them. However, prescription drugs are some of the easiest drugs to abuse. Abusing prescription medication is very common in teenagers.

A study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, was conducted on 592, 12 to 17 year olds. It found that 20 percent of the teenagers admitted to lending their prescription medications to other students. There was a similar amount that admitted to borrowing the drugs as well.

There are many risk factors that go along with sharing drugs such as:

  • The shared drugs may not come with the written instructions that the doctor gives the patients who were prescribed the medication
  • There may be side effects that would occur in certain people

Prescription Drug Dependency

Prescription drugs are highly dependent. Often, prescription drug addiction happens accidentally. When used for a prolonged amount of time, the body becomes used to the amount of drugs administered. When this happens, the user has to take more to receive the initial effects. This becomes dangerous because when a user does not take the medication, withdrawal symptoms will occur. When taking prescriptions medications, the patient needs to do exactly as the doctor says to stay clear of addiction.

Prescription Drug Abuse Warning Signs

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if someone is abusing prescriptions or if they really need the medication. There are certain warning signs to look for when you think someone is abusing prescription medications:

  • “Losing” prescriptions often so they have to go to the doctor to get a new one
  • Getting prescriptions from more than one doctor
  • Taking higher doses despite warnings
  • Stealing prescriptions
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Selling prescriptions
  • Excessive mood swings

Symptoms of Drug Abuse

The symptoms of prescription drug abuse depend on what kind of drug is being used. The most commonly abused prescription medications are: painkillers, sedatives and stimulants.

Opioid painkiller symptoms and complications are:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased respiration rate
  • Confusion
  • Increased risk of choking
  • Loss of menstrual periods and fertility
  • Slowed breathing rate

Sedative or tranquilizer symptoms and complications are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Unsteady gait
  • Impaired judgment
  • Involuntary and rapid movement of the eye ball
  • Memory problems
  • Overdose can cause coma or death

Stimulant symptoms and complication are:

  • Weight loss
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Increased risk of stroke

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

Prevention is key. It is important to:

  • Keep your prescription medications clearly labeled and away from children and those with a history of drug abuse.
  • Keep all medications in a locked cabinet.
  • Dispose of all unused pills properly. The federal government suggests flushing opioid painkillers down the toilet. Other unused medications can be mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter and thrown away.

Failure to follow the steps can lead to becoming dependent on prescription drugs.

If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs, it is important to seek help. Prescription drugs are a highly dependent and addictive. But, there is hope. If you are interested in receiving information on prescription drug detox or rehab, please call our toll free number at (877) 571-5722.

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