Prescription drugs are usually prescribed by a physician for treating pain or a wide range of medical conditions. When those drugs are used beyond the manner in which they were prescribed, they can lead to abuse and addiction. Prescription drugs are the third-most abused substances in the U.S. today, behind only alcohol and marijuana. There are a number of different types of prescription drugs that may be abused, but all of them carry the risk for serious, even deadly side effects and possible addiction.
Types of Prescription Drug Abuse
There are a number of different types of prescription drugs that are commonly abused today, which can be broken down into three basic categories:
- Prescription Opiates – frequently prescribed to treat both chronic and acute pain, drugs in this category include OxyContin and Vicodin
- Stimulants – drugs in this grouping, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are typically prescribed for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD
- Central nervous system depressants – prescription drugs like Valium and Xanax are administered for anxiety and abused for their sedative effects
Short-Term Effects of Prescription Drugs
While prescription drugs are safe when taken as recommended by physicians to treat specific conditions, using the drugs for any other reason can be dangerous and addictive. Short-term effects of prescription drugs will depend on the type of drug taken. Prescription opiate use leads to reduced respiratory rate, drowsiness, nausea and constipation. Stimulants increase body temperature and heart rate, produce feelings of paranoia and may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Depressants slow brain activity and lead to loss of coordination and drowsiness.
Long-Term Effects of Prescription Drugs
The long-term effect of prescription drugs also depends on the type of drug abused. Regular opiate use can lead to a higher risk for an overdose and may cause permanent brain damage in some users. Stimulants can create feelings of paranoia, hostility or depression. Depressant use can result in breathing problems, chronic fatigue, sexual problems and depression. All of these drugs are very addictive, which means you can develop a tolerance to their effects and you may not be able to stop using the drug even if you want to.
Signs of addiction to prescription drugs may also vary, depending on the specific drug that is abused. Addiction signs that are prevalent with all of these drugs include:
- Increased time spent obtaining, using and recovering from effects of drug
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Legal trouble as a result of drug abuse
- Difficulty keeping up in school or maintaining employment
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug abuse is one of the top types of addiction plaguing the U.S. today. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we work with patients trying to overcome prescription drug addiction, supporting them through the detox process and helping them find the right path to recovery. Our commitment to holistic health practices helps our patients learn to enjoy a healthy, productive lifestyle after treatment. To learn more, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at 442-333-6199.