Here we are talking about prescription drug abuse, not those taken medically. More than seven million people in the United States abuse prescription drugs every year. A report from 2011 by the United Nations World Drug Report states that this is a growing problem the world over. Developing countries are hit hardest. Prescription drug addiction is devastating to lives, and can even result in death. The dangers are even greater when these drugs are mixed with alcohol
In the United State, opioids, tranquilizers, sedatives and stimulants are the top drugs being abused. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are the prescription pain relievers (opiates). Drugs given by doctors for ADHD are very often abused by students. Hundreds of thousands are prescribed anti-anxiety drugs which end up being abused by many.
In 2008 it was reported that 60,000 people were using benzodiazepines (sedatives) illegally. These 60,000 were known because they entered a drug treatment center. There are therefore many others (perhaps a half million) who are in need of treatment for benzodiazepine addiction and have not received it.
Anti-anxiety drugs have been linked to a number of deaths, including those of popular celebrities, such as Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. In schools, kids share drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs are stimulants and are often used by students so they can stay up late to study.
Sedatives are classified as benzodiazepines and include sleep aids such as Lunesta and Ambien and also include barbiturates such as Nembutal and Seconal. Benzodiazepines are commonly used for the euphoric effects experienced, and yet to offset effects that are not so pleasant, some will also use cocaine or alcohol. Because these sedative drugs slow a person’s heart rate and respiration, when mixed with opiates or alcohol there is a huge risk.
When a person is coming off depressants, they must be monitored by a doctor who is qualified to oversee withdrawal. If a person tries to come off themselves, they can have seizures. Another benzodiazepine is Xanax. This drug has been the one most frequently associated with emergency room visits as a result of abuse.
Although many start out by using a drug legitimately and under doctor’s orders, too many progress to abuse. This is because they become addicted to the drug. Many others get a pill from a friend who snatched it from their parents’ medicine cabinet or from someone at work or at a party. They like the effects and then find ways to get more of the drug illegally.
Signs of prescription drug abuse will vary depending on which type the person is abusing.
When someone is abusing pain relievers, they may get drowsy and feel confused. They can feel nausea. They may get constipated. Pupils will be constricted and if they fall asleep, their breathing will be uncommonly slow.
This type of drug tends to cause someone to be unnaturally relaxed. They will be drowsy. Their memory may be poor and speech slurred. Pupils will appear dilated. They can be uncoordinated and have headaches and dizziness. Emotionally they may be depressed. They could also be aggressive and agitated. Paranoia is common. Also some get suicidal. Drugs that fall into this category are Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Halcyon.
When someone is abusing this kind of drug, they will have anxiety and sometimes delusions. Their skin will be flushed. They may stay awake for many hours and then go to sleep for a long time to catch up. They can experience chest pain with palpitations of the heart.
When a parent wishes to know if their child is abusing prescription drugs, there are signs to look for. Distinct changes occur. Sometimes a parent may attribute these changes just to the characteristics of a teenager, however when there are a number of them, it’s time to really look closer.
The teen may:
Withdraw from family and friends
Give up hobbies or other interests
Get hostile or angry when someone tries to control them in some way
Cry for no reason
Get irritable routinely
Not take care of his or her appearance
Have a sudden dive of grades or quality of work in school
Have his sleep patterns off-kilter
Ignore family rules
Opiate addiction drastically affects the life of those afflicted. When someone is addicted to an opiate, they tend to ignore all the things that were important to them before. While using the drug, he will feel relaxed and euphoric, but at the same time he will have difficulty concentrating. Reflexes will be slow and perceptions will also lag. Therefore someone on an opiate should not drive as it is not safe and an accident could occur.
Since all the usually abused prescription drugs are addictive, it is, of course, most important not to get started on them. But when it is too late, and addiction has taken over a life, it is vital to get treatment as soon as possible. There is too much risk of overdose and additional risks when the drugs are mixed with alcohol or other drugs.
Drug treatment centers are not all alike. Some will work much better than others when trying to come off of pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives and stimulants. Some struggle and struggle to get clean, only to relapse. This is why it is important to find the right drug rehab program – one that will provide lasting recovery.
We can find the right solution for you. We know that withdrawal from some of these drugs requires medical supervision too! We will find you the program that will let you leave addiction behind.