Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a higher dose that is necessary to treat the underlying problem, such as pain. Most cases of prescription drug abuse involve drugs including opioids, central nervous system depressants, and benzodiazepines. In some cases, prescription drug abuse begins after the person is prescribed the medication to treat an underlying medical disorder. Prescription drug abuse is serious and requires treatment as soon as possible.
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Opiates – Opiates, often referred to as opioids, are designed to treat pain. Many opiates are prescribed to help relieve moderate to severe pain. They are highly addictive and are often prescribed in short intervals, such as one to two weeks. Some examples of commonly prescribed and abused opiates include:
Sedatives – Sedatives, frequently referred to as central nervous system depressants, are primarily used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. This class of drugs is often called benzodiazepines. Common examples include Xanax, Valium, and Ativan.
Stimulants – Many stimulants are used to treat attention deficit disorder or narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. Frequently prescribed stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall.
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse
These drugs can cause feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, and even mind-altering effects, which may lead to drug abuse. Some of the most common signs a prescription drug abuse include taking more than is prescribed or seeking a higher dose of the same medication.
Another sign is taking a drug that has not been prescribed to you. Additional symptoms of prescription drug abuse may include frequently requesting refills, crushing or breaking the pills to take them, stealing or borrowing prescription medications from other people, and visiting several different doctors for similar conditions.
There are many different long-term health risks associated with prescription drug abuse. This includes organ damage and failure, particularly in the kidneys and liver. The person may also experience an increased tolerance level and can suffer from withdrawal symptoms without the drug. Other signs include psychological addiction and intense cravings along with decreased cognitive function. The individual may suffer from increased mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia.