Prescription Drug Addiction & Abuse
- 1. What Are Prescription Drugs?
- 2. Prescription Drugs & Addiction
- 3. Why Are Prescription Drugs Addictive?
- 4. What Causes Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse?
- 5. The Most Commonly Abused Opioids
- 6. The Most Commonly Abused Stimulants
- 7. Prescription Drug Interactions
- 8. Prescription Drug Abuse & Addiction Statistics
- oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin, Percodan)
- diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
- hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin, Lorcet)
- morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin)
- fentanyl (Duragesic)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- propoxyphene (Darvon)
- meperidine (Demerol)
When taken according to a doctor’s prescription, opioids are very effective in easing pain. As such, they are often prescribed to improve the quality of life of people living with chronic pain. For example, after surgery and in cancer treatment. However, tolerance and dependence on opioids develops fast, and addiction can develop within 1-2 weeks of regular dosage.
In case of overdose, opioids result in serious side effects including death and if abused in combination with sedatives, the risk of respiratory failure is high.
- Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), triazolam (Halcion), and estazolam (ProSom). These are often prescribed to treat acute stress reactions, panic attack, and severe stress reactions. However, if taken regularly for some time, one develops dependence, tolerance and addiction.
- Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications such as eszopiclone (Lunesta), zalepon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien). They act on the same receptors as benzodiazepines, but they have a relatively lower risk of dependence.
- Barbiturates such as phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium),mephobarbital (Mebaral), and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal). They are prescribed less often compared to above described sedatives because they pose a higher risk of overdose.
Most CNS depressants work by controlling the secretion of the brain neurotransmitter known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which once in the blood, works to decrease brain activity, leading to a feeling of calmness and drowsiness.
- Older or Typical Antipsychotics: They were discovered in the 50s and since then, they have grown to become the most established antipsychotics. They include flupentixol, chlorpromazine, levomepromazine, haloperidol, perphenazine and pericyazine.
- Newer or Atypical Antipsychotics: These are second generation antipsychotic drugs. They include clozapine, aripiprazole, amisulpride, olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine.
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However, it is worth noting that not all drugs in these categories are addictive. A good example is Tylenol, a drug used for pain relief as well as suppressing symptoms of fever, but it does not cause dependency or addiction.
- Biology: Half of the risk of addiction to a drug comes from someone’s genetics and biological makeup. Here we are talking about factors like gender (with males being more prone to addiction than females), ethnicity, whether the person suffers from other mental disorders, and whether one comes from a family with a history of drug abuse.
- Social Environment: There are many social environment factors that can make one more likely to abuse prescription and illegal drugs. These range from family and friends, economic status and general quality of life. Other indicative factors include peer pressure, mental stress, parental guidance and early exposure to drug abuse.
- Development: A person is more likely to get addicted to prescription drugs if he or she begins taking them at certain stages of their life than at others. A person in their teenage years is at the highest risk of developing addiction. This is because these are the years when critical areas of the brain central to functions such as judgment, decision making and self-control are developing at a rapid rate.
Codeine occurs naturally and it makes 2% of opium. It is the most common opiate prescribed, and the most abused around the world. Every year, around 300,000 kilograms of codeine are consumed.
In most countries, cough syrups and tablets containing codeine are available without a prescription, meaning it easy to access and abuse codeine. In fact, a recent study showed that many heroin addicts routinely consume codeine based syrups to ward off withdrawal symptoms when the actual illegal drug is unavailable or unaffordable.
Common Commercial Names for Codeine:
- Empirin with Codeine
- Fiorinal with Codeine
- Robitussin A-C
- Tylenol with Codeine
Common Street Names for Codeine:
- Captain Cody
- Doors and fours
- Pancakes and syrup
Common Commercial Names for Morphine:
- MS Contin
- Morphine Sulfate ER
Common Street Names for Morphine:
- Miss Emma
- White stuff
Common Commercial Names for Methadone:
Common Street Names for Methadone:
• Chocolate chip cookies
Common Commercial Names for Amphetamine:
Common Street Names for Amphetamine:
- Black beauty
- LA turnaround
- Truck driver
Common Commercial Names for Methylphenidate:
Common Street Names for Methylphenidate:
- Vitamin R
- The smart drug
Common Commercial Names for Barbiturates:
Common Street Names for Barbiturates:
- Yellow jackets
Common Commercial Names for Benzodiazepines:
Common Street Names for Benzodiazepines:
- Sleeping pills
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abnormal behavior.
- Changes in blood pressure.
- Loss of coordination.
Studies have shown that mixing prescription medication with alcohol can lead to some long term physical and mental health problems. These include:
- Liver damage.
- Internal bleeding.
- Heart problems.
- Impaired breathing.
Also, prescription drugs should not be taken together with other drugs, without the express permission of a doctor.
There is currently no reliable statics to show the overlap between different classes of prescription drugs. However, the available data still paints a very grim picture of the danger posed to public health by prescription drug abuse.
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