Prescription drugs are the second-most abused substances in the United States (after marijuana). The use of prescription drugs is increasingly prevalent among teens and young adults and is cause for great concern. Most commonly abused are: opioids (such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet), central nervous system depressants (such as Xanax and Valium), and stimulants (such as Adderall and Ritalin).
Often, individuals who begin taking prescription drugs for justified medical reasons develop an addiction and begin abusing them. Many believe that, since they are regulated, prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs. This is not the case; in fact, prescription drugs can have effects that are more severe than those of illegal drugs.
Abusers generally go from doctor to doctor in search of more prescriptions. They may also forge prescriptions, steal medication from family and friends, or buy the drugs from other people. Sometimes people fake pain or illness to get the medication. Behavioral changes may lead to the destruction of personal relationships and dismissal from employment. Users may also experience financial troubles or commit theft due to the costs of maintaining their habit.
Stepping Stone Center will start a comprehensive detox treatment to prepare your body and mind for the next phase of rehab. During drug rehab you will learn how to live life without using prescription drugs.
Symptoms and Side Effects of an Opioid Addiction
Opioids are generally prescribed as pain relievers, anesthetics, cough suppressants, or anti-anxiety medications. They are abused because of the euphoric feeling that accompanies their pain-relieving effects. Common opioids are Endocet, hydrocodone, methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone and Ultram.
Opioid abuse can cause itching, vomiting, disorientation, constricted (“pin point”) pupils, hallucinations, irritability, dizziness, drowsiness, dramatic changes in mood, dramatic changes in activity level (could be either excessive sleeping or frenzied activity), fainting, hiccups, sweats, convulsions, and seizures.
Long-term health risks of prescription drug abuse include stomach bleeding, kidney damage, liver damage, nervous system damage, circulatory collapse, decreased libido, impotence, contraction of HIV/AIDS or other blood-borne illness if drugs are injected, respiratory arrest, and death.
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Effects and Signs of a Central Nervous System Depressant Addiction
Depressants slow normal brain function. They are prescribed to treat insomnia, anxiety, seizures, and moderate to severe stress. They are also used as analgesics and anesthetics. Abusers of central nervous system depressants report euphoria, vivid visuals, full-body highs, and relaxation accompanying their use. Some use prescription depressants to enhance the high or lessen the negative effects of other legal or illegal drugs. Popular prescription depressants are Ambien, Ativan, Klonipin, Valium, and Xanax. Some slang terms for depressants are “bars,” “benzos,” “downers,” “roofies,” and “zannies.”
Depressant use can cause hallucinations, confusion, poor coordination, change in appetite, twitching, loss of inhibition, headache, skin rashes, short-term memory loss, mood swings, irritability, unusual sleep patterns, drowsiness, nightmares, and fainting.
Some central nervous system depressants can cause anterograde amnesia (often called “blacking out”), a condition in which individuals are unable to remember events they experienced while under the effect of the drug. This makes the user vulnerable to harm and crimes such as sexual assault.
Long-term negative consequences of depressant abuse include insomnia, kidney problems, liver problems, circulatory problems, respiratory problems, cardiac problems, memory loss, shock, seizures, tremors, coma, and possible death.
Effects and Signs of a Stimulant Addiction
Stimulants speed up the functions of an individual’s brain and body. They are generally prescribed to treat ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), narcolepsy, and chronic fatigue syndrome. They are abused because they can increase energy, cause wakefulness, decrease appetite, or induce euphoria. Students also abuse stimulants as study and test-taking aids due to their ability to keep users awake and concentrated for an extended period of time. Some of the most commonly abused stimulants are Adderall and Ritalin.
Stimulant use can cause increased energy, increased activity, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, mood swings, irritability, paranoia, panic, aggression, hostility, hallucinations, anxiety, muscle twitching, convulsions, and fainting.
Long-term consequences of stimulant abuse are malnutrition, severe weight loss, stunted growth (in younger users), cardiovascular problems, problems regulating body temperature, gastrointestinal problems, impotence, seizures, stroke, and possible death.
Read more about how prescription drugs are abused at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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If you have questions about prescription drugs, or would just like to speak with someone about a drug or alcohol problem, please call Stepping Stone’s 24-hour Addiction Helpline at 866-957-4960. You can also Live Chat from your computer or use our Contact Us form.