Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse refers to the use of prescription medications for other purposes or ways than prescribed. This includes taking someone else’s prescription medications to relieve the pain for instance, increasing the dose of prescribed medications without doctor’s consent and the use of medications as an alternative to illegal drugs. All three types of misuse of prescription drugs can cause serious complications which can even be fatal, while long term abuse can lead to addiction which changes the function of the brain and causes physical dependence.
Despite the potentially serious complications and the risk of addiction, prescription drug abuse tends to be on the rise. It is observed in all age groups but it is particularly common in young people and teens who abuse their parent’s medications falsely believing that they are a safer alternative to illegal drugs. They often are not aware of the risks of prescription drug abuse and to make things worse, they sometimes mix different classes of drugs or/and take them with other substances such as alcohol which further increases the risk of potentially serious complications. Parents of teens should therefore seriously consider keeping their prescription drugs out of reach to their kids, especially the most commonly abused classes of drugs – opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants and stimulants. Although most parents cannot imagine their kids abusing prescription drugs, teens are unfortunately highly unpredictable and are also more easily influenced by their friends and colleagues.
Symptoms of prescription drug abuse vary greatly. In teens, the problem with abuse of prescription drugs typically manifests in appearing to be high and unusually energetic. There is also a great chance that one of the parents will be missing prescription medications as teens typically steal medications from their parents. Approaching a teen or even an adult, however, is very difficult because most people who have a problem with prescription drug abuse will react with anger or denial especially if they have already developed an addiction. If so, you cannot expect a rational reaction because every type of addiction affects the person’s ability to think rationally. Not doing anything about it to avoid conflicts, on the other hand, is not helping the person either. On the contrary, the problem gets only worse if left untreated. So if you suspect that your teen or a loved person could be abusing prescription drugs and do not know what to do, ask your health care provider for an advice. He or she has the necessary knowledge and training to help you deal with the problem in the best possible way.
If you think that you may have a problem with prescription drug abuse, seek medical advice immediately. It is not easy to admit having this kind of problem, however, it is important to keep in mind that it is a lot easier to deal with it before it gets out of control.