Drug addiction has become one of the biggest challenges for nations across the world. Just the U.S. alone has 22.5 million Americans (8.7% of the population) abusing illicit drugs. However, what’s scarier is the fact that addicts are turning to prescription drugs rather than the usual suspects.
A 2010 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has uncovered that 7 million Americans (2.7% of the population) annually abuse prescription drugs that were given to them or someone in their social circle. Of the numerous types of prescription drugs available, addicts choose the following three categories: Opioids, Depressants, and Stimulants.
Types of Prescription Drug Abused in the US
Type 1 Opioids
Opioids are drugs that resemble morphine in function as they target the central and peripheral nervous system to treat acute pain. These mainly include codeine, methadone, fentanyl and analogs, and oxycodone HCL, which cause pain relief, sedation, and drowsiness. Opioids also have the power to make their addicts enjoy a sense of euphoria, which is why they’re injected, swallowed, or smoked heavily.
However, what its 5.1 million users don’t know is that Opioids can cause more than dry mouth, itching, sweating, and nausea. Using a large amount of these prescription drugs for long can cause slower breathing, lower heart rate, and blood pressure, unconsciousness, and even death.
Type 2 Depressants
Used by 2.6 million drug addicts, depressants are drugs that reduce neurotransmission levels to lower stimulation in parts of the brain. These cover sleep medications, Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines, all of which can be injected, swallowed or snorted. Addicts choose depressants because of their calming effects, which include sedation, reduced anxiety, and feelings of well-being.
However, there are numerous side effects to illicit use of prescribed depressants. Because of their effect on the nervous system, these drugs cause slurred speech, lack of concentration, confusion, dizziness, and impaired memory. They also cause their addicts to become more irritable as they lower blood pressure and breathing rate.
In fact, many of those who passed away due to using depressants suffered from respiratory distress before dying. Sadly, even those who stop using anti-depressants are in danger of dying due to acute withdrawal symptoms.
Type 3 Stimulants
The third most abused prescription drug type is stimulants. These are the opposite of depressants, which is why they’re called uppers. Once consumed, snorted or injected, stimulants can cause temporary improvements to mental, physical, or both functions.
Consumed by 1.1 million Americans annually, stimulants like Amphetamines and Methylphenidate have the power to make addicts feel exhilarated, more energetic, and mentally alert. However, they can potentially cause increased heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism issues, weight loss, insomnia, heart attacks, and strokes.
On the other hand, Amphetamines can also cause paranoia, loss of coordination, hallucinations, and aggressiveness. Meanwhile, Methylphenidate causes loss of appetite, which can be dangerous when addicts consume drugs on an empty stomach.
Your Role in the Equation
Now that you know about the top prescription drug types being used by addicts, you should be more careful if you’re using them. Whether you have a teen at home or a loved one who may delve into the world of addiction, you need to take a few preventative steps.
1. Start By Monitoring – In addition to monitoring behavioral changes in your potential addict, you should keep an eye on the number of pills. You should also monitor your loved one’s internet usage to ensure that they’re not purchasing these drugs online.
2. Secure the Drugs – 64% of teens who abused pain relievers got them from friends or relatives without their knowledge. So, make sure to secure these drugs like you would your valuables.
3. Properly Dispose of Unused Drugs – Properly dispose expired or unused drugs to avoid them getting in the wrong hands.
4. Educate – Educate your loved ones on the side effects of drug abuse and what they may lose if they choose that path.
However, there’s a chance you won’t be lucky in preventing the problem. In case you catch your loved one red handed, don’t try cutting them off yourself. Get professional help through a drug rehab program. Neither you nor your loved one will be able to handle withdrawal symptoms, so do the best for both of you and get help.
So, start implementing this information right away and protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of drug addiction.
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