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3 Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

3 Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs are safe and helpful when you use them as prescribed. But certain kinds of prescription medications can be addictive, and if you start to overuse or abuse them, you can permanently damage your health.

The drugs that most often require prescription drug addiction treatment include sedatives, opioids, and stimulants.

  • Sedatives and central nervous system depressants (like Valium, Ambien, Ativan, Xanax, Seconal, and Nembutal) have a calming effect. They are often prescribed for sleep, anxiety, and panic disorders.
  • Opioids (like Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, codeine, and morphine) block the brain’s pain receptors. They’re prescribed to treat acute and chronic pain.
  • Stimulants (like Ritalin, Adderall, amphetamines, and Dexedrine) enhance brain activity and alertness. They’re prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders.

Since these medications activate “reward centers” in the brain, they can produce a euphoria or “high” that can turn addictive.

People often misuse the drugs after receiving a legitimate prescription and without intending to become addicted. Here are three of the consequences that prescription drug rehab can address.

Prescription Drug Abuse Creates Physical Dependence

After using a prescription drug for a long time, you may develop a physical dependence. This isn’t the same thing as addiction, but it does mean your body and brain have come to rely on the drug to function normally. You may develop a higher tolerance and need larger doses of the prescription to get the same effect.

Another side effect of physical dependence is that you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medicine. These symptoms can range from merely unpleasant to life-threatening. Sudden withdrawal from a stimulant or depressant, for example, can alter brain activity and cause seizures.

The danger of withdrawal is one reason why prescription drug addiction treatment is so important. In treatment, medical professionals supervise your withdrawal and give you safe medications to ease the symptoms. They may also taper you off the prescription drug by monitoring you as you get used to smaller and smaller doses.

Other Health Risks Increase With Prescription Drug Addiction

When people abuse prescription drugs, they may take them in unsafe combinations, such as with other drugs, alcohol, or higher-than-prescribed doses. Emergency room visits and even overdose deaths can result. Even if you survive and stay out of the hospital, you can develop long-term health complications.

Risks of opioid and sedative abuse include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Memory problems
  • Accidents that occur when you’re sedated
  • Transmissible diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C (if you’re injecting opioids)
  • Risks of stimulant abuse include:
  • Elevated or irregular heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • High body temperature
  • Transmissible diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C (if you’re injecting stimulants)

Prescription Drug Addiction Changes Behavior

When someone becomes addicted to prescription drugs, they’ll continue to seek and use the drugs even if the addiction is causing problems in their lives. Addiction can rewire the brain, increasing physical urges for prescription drugs and making withdrawal painful.

This combination of factors can lead people to lose their self-control and good judgment. They may steal or otherwise break the law to obtain prescriptions. While they’re under the influence of the drug, they may take dangerous risks like unsafe driving. Drug use might affect their work or school performance and harm their relationships. People may find the drug changes their personality, such as making them more hostile, aggressive, or paranoid.

This behavior can have far-reaching consequences, including ruptured relationships, lost jobs, or jail time.

Expert, Compassionate Prescription Drug Rehab at GBAC

If you or someone you love is developing a chemical dependence on, or addiction to, prescription drugs, Greater Boston Addiction Centers are here to help. Early intervention is often the key to success, but it’s never too late to reach out for assistance.

A prescription drug rehab is a safe place to detox and begin the work of recovery. Our doctors and expert medical team assess the physical and psychological needs of patients who have become dependent on prescriptions. If you require prescription drugs for pain relief or another medical condition, doctors will help you find a solution that’s safe, effective, and non-addictive.

Our outpatient programs are offered in the daytime or the evening. They include partial hospitalization, gender-specific treatment, counseling, and relapse prevention. Prescription drug abuse doesn’t have to take over your life. Call us at 877.920.6583 or contact us online to learn more.

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