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Abusing Prescription Drugs

Most people only take prescription drugs for the purpose they are intended for. However, an estimated 48 million people (aged 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetime, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In recent years there has been a drastic increase of people abusing and misusing prescription medication, which too has lead to increase ER visits and prescription drug overdoses and deaths.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is the intentional misuse of a medication. Regardless to if the drug was prescribed to you or not, taking higher doses of the drug than directed is considered to be abuse. Other forms of prescription drug abuse occur when an individual takes another persons medication, steals the drug, or even illegally purchases the medication. Taking a prescription medication in any other way that how it is prescribed is a dangerous form of abuse and can have dangerous results.

Developing an Addiction to Prescription Drugs

Prolonged use of any drug can result in the body developing a tolerance, requiring larger doses to acheive the desired effects. As the dose increases as does its use, the body begins to become dependent on the drug. When abruptly stopping the use of the drug you may begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal that may be dangerous.

Commonly Abuse Prescription Drugs

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the following three classes of prescription drugs are commonly abused:

  • Opioid drugs, which are used to treat pain
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin), which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants, including Adderall or Ritalin, which are used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder)

When these prescription medications are taken as directed they can be quite effective. When used as directed over a short period of time these medications rarely result in a dependency. However when they are used over a long period of time, especially when misused, prescription drugs may lead to a physical dependence and/or addiction. Many prescription medications have harmful symptoms of withdrawal, requiring medical treatment to safely and successfully overcome ones addiction.

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Abusing Prescription Drugs

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