What are prescription drugs?
Prescription drugs are licensed medications or medicines that are regulated by government legislation. To legally obtain prescription drugs, patients must have a prescription (also called an Rx or script).
What is prescription drug abuse?
Any improper use of prescription drugs—including deviations from prescribed dosing or method of administration, sharing prescription drugs or taking prescription drugs without a script—is considered prescription drug abuse.
Effects of prescription drug abuse.
Prescription drug abuse poses serious health consequences. For starters, prescription drugs often involve side effects even when taken as directed. These side effects can become fatal when prescription drugs are abused in combination with alcohol or other drugs.
Prescription drug abuse also increases one’s risk of overdose, as prescription drug abusers often take improper doses or change routes of administration, thus flooding their systems with large amounts of drugs all at once and without regard to factors such as height, weight, age and rate of absorption.
Chronic prescription drug abuse causes physical dependence, tolerance and, eventually, addiction. Similar to the abuse of illicit drugs, withdrawal symptoms will develop if use is abruptly reduced or stopped.
Types of abused prescription
The most commonly abused prescription drugs can be broken down into three classes: opioids (used to treat pain), central nervous system depressants (used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders) and stimulants (used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy). According to a report filed with the Center for Disease Control, prescription drug abuse reflects disease patterns by age group:
tend to abuse asthma medications.
tend to abuse central nervous system stimulants.
aged adults tend to abuse antidepressants.
adults tend to abuse cholesterol or blood pressure medications.
Prevalence of prescription drug abuse and addiction.
U.S. News & World Report wrote that prescription drug abuse has risen dramatically in the past few years. (Only the illegal use of marijuana is more prevalent.) Although prescription drug abuse is rising among all age groups, officials are especially concerned about prescription drug abuse among teenagers: One in 10 high school seniors has tried the painkiller Vicodin without a prescription, and one in 20 has taken the potent pill OxyContin.
Also, deaths related to overdoses of prescription drugs have soared in the past decade. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) notes that about 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs, which is an 80 percent increase from 10 years ago.
Treating prescription drug abuse
Treatment for prescription drug abuse and addiction must take into account the type of drug and the needs of the individual. Successful prescription drug treatment programs may include detoxification, behavioral treatment and pharmacological interventions to ease withdrawal symptoms and lessen one’s chances of relapse.
For more information on prescription drug addiction treatment, explore Caron’s programs or contact us.