Prescription drug abuse
- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 47 views
Prescription drug abuse is the use of prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor. Prescription drug abuse or problematic use includes everything from taking a friend's prescription painkiller for your backache to snorting or injecting ground-up pills to get high. Drug abuse may become ongoing and compulsive, despite the negative consequences.
An increasing problem, prescription drug abuse can affect all age groups, including teens. The prescription drugs most often abused include opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and stimulants.
Early identification of prescription drug abuse and early intervention may prevent the problem from turning into an addiction.
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse depend on the specific drug. Because of their mind-altering properties, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are:
Opioids used to treat pain, for example, medications containing oxycodone — such as Oxycontin and Percocet — and those containing hydrocodone — such as Norco
Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), and hypnotics, such as zolpidem (Ambien), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, others), dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall XR, Mydayis), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain sleep disorders
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse
OpioidsAnti-anxiety medications and sedativesStimulants
Feeling high (euphoria)
Slowed breathing rate
Increased dose required for pain relief
Worsening or increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses (hyperalgesia)
Problems with memory
High blood pressure
High body temperature
Other signs include:
Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions
Taking higher doses than prescribed
Excessive mood swings or hostility
Increase or decrease in sleep
Appearing to be high, unusually energetic or revved up, or sedated
Requesting early refills or continually "losing" prescriptions, so more prescriptions must be written
Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor
Treatment options for prescription drug abuse vary, depending on the type of drug used and your needs. But counseling, or sometimes psychotherapy, is typically a key part of treatment. Treatment may also require withdrawal (detoxification), addiction medication and recovery support.
A licensed alcohol and drug counselor or other addiction specialist can provide individual, group or family counseling. This can help you:
Determine what factors may have led to prescription drug abuse, such as an underlying mental health problem or relationship problems
Learn the skills needed to resist cravings, avoid abuse of drugs and help prevent recurrence of prescription drug problems
Learn strategies for developing positive relationships
Identify ways to become involved in healthy activities that aren't related to drugs
Learn the steps to take if a relapse happens
Depending on the prescription drug and usage, detoxification may be needed as part of treatment. Withdrawal can be dangerous and should be done under a doctor's care.
Opioid withdrawal. Opioid tapering involves gradually decreasing the dose of medication until it's no longer used. Other medications — such as clonidine (Catapres), a drug mainly used for high blood pressure — can help manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine, buprenorphine with naloxone (Suboxone) or methadone may be used by doctors under specific, legally regulated and monitored conditions to ease symptoms of withdrawal from opioid painkillers. Drugs given by injection once a month by a health care provider may help people stay off opioids during their recovery. Examples include Vivitrol, preparation of the drug naltrexone, or Sublocade, preparation of the drug buprenorphine.
Withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications and sedatives. If you've used prescription sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs for a long time, it may take weeks to slowly taper off them. Because of withdrawal symptoms, it can take that long for your body to adjust to low doses of the medication and then get used to taking none at all. You may need other types of medication to stabilize your mood, manage the final phases of tapering or help with anxiety. You'll need to work closely with your doctor.
Stimulant withdrawal. There are no FDA-approved drugs used for treating stimulant withdrawal. Treatment typically focuses on tapering off the medication and relieving withdrawal symptoms — such as sleep problems, tiredness and depression.