The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Anyone aware of recent news has certainly heard mention of the horrific crisis of prescription drug abuse. Depending on how close you are to the problem, you may perceive it as substance abuse or accidental misuse. The truth is that either definition carries with it dangerous risks.
It doesn’t matter if you borrow a friend’s prescribed drugs, drink alcohol on top of your dose, or take them to produce an alternative effect. Each of these is misusing and can eventually lead to a prescription drug abuse problem. In this article we’ll explain why any abuse of prescription drugs is and rightfully should be considered very dangerous.
Common Health Risks from Prescription Drugs
Even if you adhere to the correct dosage recommendations of prescription drugs, there are ways they can compromise your health. As an example, a number of prescription drugs should never be mixed with other substances.
Many prescription drugs have inherent health risks, even when taken as prescribed. As soon as you add additional drugs or alcohol into the equation, the risks are magnified. For instance, prescription drugs with a stimulant quality can produce dangerous health problems when taken with other drugs. Mixing these types of prescribed medications can dangerously elevate blood pressure or cause an irregular heartbeat when combined with something as simple as over-the-counter cold medicines.
Depressant type medications mixed with other over-the-counter sedatives can bring about memory loss, trigger paranoia, or cause dangerous seizures. Your doctor will discuss the possible health risks of taking a prescription drug correctly with you.
However, when you step across the line into misuse or abuse, you raise the level of risk dramatically. Beyond the inherent risks of taking prescription drugs properly, the dangers associated with abuse are potentially life-threatening.
Risks Associated with Prescription Drug Abuse
When you step across the line from using prescription drugs as they’re medically prescribed to misuse and abuse, you heighten the dangers. Many of the same health risks associated with prescribed usage are amplified when you misuse and abuse prescription drugs. Here are some problems that can arise when prescription drugs are abused.
- Memory Loss – This is one of the first things that happen to prescription drug abusers. While it is a potential hazard under correct dosages, this problem becomes even worse when the drugs are abused. As an example, mixing opioid types of painkillers with alcohol can cause dangerous blackouts.
- Poor Job and School Performance – When you begin to have difficulty remembering important things, it’s logical you’ll have problems at school or at work. Compromised performance on the job or at school is a potential sign of a substance abuse issue.
- Prone to Accidents – Since the abuse of prescription drugs can impair your thinking, it is also logical that you may become prone to accidents. These can be as innocent as dropping things or stumbling. When the level of abuse becomes more intense, it can also lead to serious falls or automobile accidents.
- Paranoia – There are consistent reports that substance abusers with prescription medications as their drug of choice show an exaggerated sense of paranoia. This problem can become so severe that it can produce dangerous psychological risks, including suicide.
- Substance Abuse or Addiction – Prescription drugs, especially opiates, will produce an addictive attachment. This can occur at varying levels depending on individual resistance. However, once cravings begin to supplant good sense and judgment, the line has been crossed.
Anytime you begin to feel it is okay to supersede the medical guidelines for using a prescription drug, you’re misusing the medication. It is a short step from this type of misuse to abuse. The deeper you become entangled in abusing prescription drugs, the more intense the previously discussed consequences will become.
One of the most common results of abusing prescription drugs are legal consequences. While you may not have much worry about misusing or abusing your prescriptions, if you take medicines that are not prescribed to you, you are potentially breaking the law. Acquiring or taking prescribed drugs without a prescription can put your life in legal jeopardy. Selling your own prescriptions or buying some from another person now carries potentially stiff jail sentences.These legal consequences don’t even take into account the criminal charges that apply to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by prescription drugs, legal or illegal.
The ultimate risk of prescription drugs is startling, it is overdose and death. Certain types of opiates can put you into cardiac arrest. When abused, opiates and benzodiazepines, or sedatives, can impair the user so severely that they contemplate suicide, with little will-power to stop.
The effects of prescription drugs when operating a motor vehicle can be catastrophic. However, the most documented statistical risk of abusing narcotic prescription drugs is the risk of overdose. Once the level of prescription drugs in your body reaches a dangerous level, an overdose will happen. Your body will begin to shut down as a result, and without emergency medical attention you will die.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse
The problem with the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is the signs can be difficult to detect. Unlike the smell of alcohol or other drugs, swallowing pills is undetectable. Substance abuse problems associated with prescription drugs can be nearly impossible to notice by untrained people. Here are a few signs indicative of a substance abuse problem associated with prescription drugs.
- Loss of Interest – One of the first signs of a substance abuse problem related to any drug is a tendency to withdraw from life. If you or someone close to you suddenly loses interest in life, this might be a sign of a problem.
- Unexplained Mood Changes – Sometimes substance abuse can cause people to cry uncontrollably for no reason. As quickly as this individual can drop into a state of depression, they can also elevate to euphoric happiness. While these sudden and dramatic mood changes can be the result of other issues, they are a symptom of prescription drug misuse.
- Memory Loss – This is a symptom that you can pinpoint as an indication of an abuse problem, but it can also be used to note changes in others. If someone suddenly has trouble remembering things to an abnormal degree, it could indicate a problem with prescription drugs.
- Speech and Coordination Problems – Many prescription drugs cause speech and coordination problems when abused. Too much of a particular type of painkiller can make a person wobbly on their feet and unsure of themselves when they walk. Slurred speech or incoherent rambling is also a sign of substance abuse.
- Loss of Consciousness and Dangerous Vital Signs – This is undeniably the worst symptom of various types of substance abuse. Unfortunately, it is all too often the final symptom of abusing prescription drugs when all other symptoms have been missed. This is the point where the person is perilously close to overdose and possibly death. Because of this single-most devastating final consequence of abusing prescription drugs, it is never wrong to question at the sign of any of the previous symptoms.
Prescription drug abuse can cause both psychological and physical risks. Once entangled in a web of substance abuse, it can seem like there is no escape. However, there is hope in recovery. If you feel you may have a problem with misuse or abuse of prescription medications, consult with a professional today.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and you or a loved one suffers serious consequences. The admissions department at St John’s Recovery Place is available to guide you towards the right decision. When dealing with the risks associated with the abuse of prescription drugs, the consequences could be life-threatening, so getting help is the best thing you can do.