There are many individuals that develop an issue with alcohol addiction. People who suffer with an addiction in the area of alcohol develop the addiction for many different reasons.
Today the abuse of prescription drugs throughout the United States is becoming a serious problem with many pharmaceuticals being used for nonmedical purposes and prescription opioid painkillers are among them. According to the latest Monitoring the Future study that was done, marijuana is the most abused drug among young people with prescription drugs coming in second.
The definition of prescription drug abuse according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) means intentionally using a medication without a prescription; in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feeling it causes. There were around seventy million people in 2009 that were using psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical reasons at that time. Medications at that time that were most commonly abused were pain relievers (5.3 million), tranquilizers (2.0 million), stimulants (1.3 million), and sedatives (0.4 million).
Young people as well as adults are misusing prescription drugs anymore and unfortunately there are many people in all age groups becoming dependent on them. There are a few different reasons the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs are possibly increasing among people in all generations. Possible reasons include:
- Prescription medications are prescribed by physicians so people think they're safe no matter what their intention of use is for.
- Prescription drugs are easy to get especially pain pills and stimulant drugs.
- Some people use prescription drugs to get high intentionally while others may use them to improve cognition.
- Another reason prescription drug abuse is increasing could be self-medicating the symptoms of pain, anxiety or insomnia.
Whatever the reasons are behind the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs today, the fact remains that many prescribed drugs cause tolerance and dependence, many prescription drugs are as dangerous as street drugs when they're misused, and overdose and death are a serious risk when prescribed drugs are abused or combined with other substances.
Prescribed Painkillers (opioids) are pain medications (narcotics), that are prescribed for patients to manage and relieve pain and the prescription drug and dose prescribed, depends on the medical reason and level of pain the patient is suffering from. Examples of prescription painkillers include morphine, OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet and Vicodin. When opioid pain medications are taken as prescribed they're very effective pain relieving medications. When opioid pain pills are misused or abused, the risks involved can include death.
When a person intentionally misuses prescribed pain pills to get high, they use higher doses and sometimes pulverize them into powder form and either snort or inject them into their bloodstream. When the drug enters the bloodstream quickly it also reaches the brain fast. The level of euphoria a person experiences depends on how the prescription pain pills are administered and how high the dose is but relaxation, pleasure and euphoria are among the effects. Unfortunately pleasure isn't the only effect that is experienced when a person abuses opioid narcotic medications; addiction, respiratory problems, overdose, and death are also a serious risk.
Combining other drugs or alcohol with prescription opioids increases a person's risk of serious respiratory problems and death also. Drugs like antihistamines, barbiturates and benzodiazepines are especially dangerous to mix with opioid drugs and so is alcohol, when the effects of other substances are mixed with prescribed opioids, the results can be fatal.
Prescription tranquilizers and sedatives are central nervous system depressants (CNS) that are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. These prescription drugs slow down a person's normal brain function. Prescription medications that fall into this category are barbiturates like Mebaral and Nembutal which are prescribed to help a person experiencing sleep problems. Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax are prescribed to treat anxiety, severe stress reactions, panic attacks, and convulsions. When a person abuses prescription sedatives and tranquilizers they use higher doses than prescribed and sometimes combine them with other drugs or alcohol which is extremely dangerous. CNS depressants when abused can cause drowsiness and when combined with alcohol, pain medications, or some allergy medicines can slow down a person's heart rate and breathing and lead to death. Prescribed tranquilizers and sedatives can also lead to tolerance and addiction depending on the frequency and dose abused.
There are some newer medications on the market today for the treatment of sleep disorders that are effective but have a lower risk of abuse and dependence. These prescribed medications include Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta.
Prescription stimulant drugs are prescribed to treat narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and many people abuse these drugs and risk psychosis, seizures, and cardiovascular problems. Examples of stimulant drugs include Dexedrine and Adderall (dextroamphetamine) and Ritalin and Concerta (methylphenidate) which increase alertness, attention and energy. Because the abuse of prescribed stimulants in the past was so prevalent and addictive, today they're only prescribed for narcolepsy, ADHD, and depression if the patient doesn't respond to other treatments.
Stimulant drugs not only increase a person's attention span and increases their alertness, they also increase blood pressure, heart rates, increase glucose, constrict blood vessels and increase respiration. Stimulant type drugs even though there are many health risks associated with their use, are commonly abused because they increase energy levels and in high doses, produce euphoria. Some stimulants can also lead to paranoia and feelings of hostility when used repeatedly over a short period of time. As stated above, prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in our nation and affects people in all age groups. Prescription drugs are easy to get, many prescription drugs are very addictive when abused, and combining prescription drugs with alcohol or other substances can be lethal.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction
Not all prescription drug addictions are treated the same, it depends on the drug that's abused. Prescription pain pill addiction can be effectively treated the same way heroin addiction is. Medications like Methadone and Buprenorphine and sometimes Naltrexone are effectively used for managing and treating opiate addiction. Behavioral therapy when combined with medication therapy can be extremely effective for treating opioid addiction for most people and lead to a successful recovery.
There is a new promising approach to treating pain killer addiction which is a long acting formulation of the opioid receptor blocker naltrexone (Vivitrol) which can last for weeks instead of hours or days like other medications and is already FDA approved.
CNS depressant drug addiction and prescription stimulant drug addiction is also affectively treated with behavioral therapies but there is no specific medication yet on the market to treat these addictions.
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