Prescription Drugs – Are You Addicted to Your Medicine Cabinet?

Some might say the most challenging drug addiction is with prescription drugs. Since these aren’t illegal and are readily available at your local drugstore, no one is watching over your shoulder to make sure you don’t abuse them.

Doctors certainly don’t give out medications with the intent that you misuse them. The doctor, the pharmacy and the literature given with each prescription make it clear if a drug has the potential to become addictive.

Some prescription drug abusers know perfectly well what they’re doing, while others stumble into the problem unaware of the dangers they face until it’s too late. About 20% of Americans currently abuse prescription drugs for non-medical reasons - and the statistics increase annually.

The most commonly-abused prescription drugs are sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants and narcotics. Each of these drugs has a legitimate medical use, yet each can also become addictive when used improperly.

A prescription drug abuser may be a person who started using the drugs for post-surgical pain or anxiety, and then found that by using them, they could experience a substantial drug high.

These prescription drug abusers will go from doctor to doctor, even traveling out of town, to get new prescriptions. Doctors rely on patients to report their medication use, but those who are addicted often lie to get the prescription refills.

At some point, they may even resort to stealing physician drug pads to write their own prescriptions, which is illegal. Others use online pharmacies - both in the United States and in other countries - to satisfy their ever-increasing need for more drugs to sustain their addiction.

Another frightening trend in prescription drug abuse is among teenagers who get these drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets to use or sell to other prescription drug addicts.

What they don’t realize is that the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse are just as bad as with illegal drugs. Overuse of narcotics can lead to strokes or breathing problems that end in death.

Stimulants that may provide a major benefit to a young person with Attention Deficit Disorder becomes a psychoactive agent when abused, leading to paranoia, rage, seizures and heart system failure.

The abuse of prescription drugs and over the counter drugs is rising at alarming rates. Emergency rooms and treatment facilities have seen a 300% increase in cases of prescription drug abuse among all age groups.

Medical and psychological intervention is necessary to detox from prescription drug abuse. The body chemistry has been altered by these drugs and must be restored to the right balance.

These drugs may have left behind permanent alterations in the brain function and mental processing abilities. As with any addiction, the underlying issues that drive the addictive behavior must be worked out in psychotherapy.

Group therapy can also be useful, as well as regular participation in community-based program such as Narcotics Anonymous. Prescription drug abusers don’t like to go to programs with street drug users because they think they’re somehow different, but they aren’t.

A drug addict is a drug addict, whether they bought the drug on a dark street corner or stole it from a family member’s medicine cabinet. That brings us to the last important step - alert family and friends about the need to lock or remove potentially addictive drugs so that one more access point is denied.

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