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Dangers of Abusing Medications

Like all drug abuse, using prescription drugs for the wrong reasons has serious risks for a person’s health. Opioid abuse can lead to vomiting, mood changes, decrease in ability to think (cognitive function), and even decreased respiratory function, coma, or death. This risk is higher when prescription drugs like opioids are taken with other substances like alcohol, antihistamines, and CNS depressants.

CNS depressants have risks, too. Abruptly stopping or reducing them too quickly can lead to seizures. Taking CNS depressants with other medications, such as prescription painkillers, some over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, or alcohol can slow a person’s heartbeat and breathing ” and even kill.

Abusing stimulants (like some ADHD drugs) may cause heart failure or seizures. These risks are increased when stimulants are mixed with other medicines ” even OTC ones like certain cold medicines. Taking too much of a stimulant can lead a person to develop a dangerously high body temperature or an irregular heartbeat.

The dangers of prescription drug abuse can be made even worse if people take drugs in a way they weren’t intended to be used. And because there can be many variations of the same medication, the dose of medication and how long it stays in the body can vary. The person who doesn’t have a prescription might not really know which one he or she has.

Probably the most common result of prescription drug abuse is addiction. People who abuse medications can become addicted just as easily as if they were taking street drugs.

Drug addiction is a biological, pathological process that alters how the brain functions. Prolonged drug use changes the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways. These long-lasting changes are a major component of the addiction itself.

Over time, the type of substances abused and the method of abuse will vary. We have included a list of resources on drugs of abuse. These sites provide current information on the latest research and survey data available at the national and state level. An educated public is a key component in our community effort to prevent substance abuse. The decision to seek treatment can be difficult. Fortunately there are several treatment providers in our community that offer effective residential and/or outpatient treatment programs. For more information on treatment providers in  Hillsborough County please go to http://www.211atyourfingertips.org.