Whether they’re using street drugs or medications, drug abusers often have trouble at school, at home, with friends, or with the law. The likelihood that someone will commit a crime, be a victim of a crime, or have an accident is higher when that person is abusing drugs ”no matter whether those drugs are medications or street drugs.
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. Taking several high doses over a short period of time may make a drug abuser aggressive or paranoid. Although stimulant abuse might not lead to physical dependence and withdrawal, the feelings these drugs give people can cause them to use the drugs more and more often so they become a abit that’s hard to break.
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. Ritalin may seem harmless because it’s prescribed ven for little kids with ADHD. But when a person takes it either unnecessarily or in a way that wasnt intended to be used such as snorting or injection, Ritalin toxicity can be serious. 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. The reason many drugs have to be prescribed by a doctor is because some of them are quite addictive. That’s one of the reasons most doctors won’t usually renew a prescription unless they see the patient ” they want to examine the patient to make sure he or she isn’t getting addicted.
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. It is as though there is a figurative switch in the brain that flips at some point during an individuals drug use. The point at which this flip occurs varies from individual to individual, but the effect of this change is the transformation of a drug abuser to a drug addict.
Our goal is to provide information that increases your awareness of the impact of prescription drug abuse and other drugs of abuse. More importantly, we hope your awareness of the impact drug abuse can have on you, your family and your community has been increased. Hopefully we have also educated you as a consumer on ways to protect our family and the value of treatment. 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.