Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse and addiction is a huge problem in the U.S. Every year, millions of people abuse prescription drugs. Abusing certain medications can lead to addiction.
People often abuse prescription drugs because they are looking to get ‘high’. Some drugs, especially opioids, stimulants, and depressants, can lead to feelings of euphoria and pleasure if abused.
But prescription drugs are only safe if taken exactly as prescribed by a doctor. When abused, the health risks of taking prescription drugs can be very serious. In severe cases, frequent prescription drug consumption can lead to addiction, overdose, and other fatal health issues.
Everyone is not equally as likely to get addicted to prescription drugs.
Who is at Risk for Prescription Drug Addiction?
Although there are many different medications that people can become addicted to, the risk factors for all of them are mostly the same. If you have any of the risk factors for prescription drug abuse, you could be more likely to get addicted.
Risk factors include:
- Genetics. Certain genes can make you more likely to have addictive behavior. If you have a family history with prescription drug addiction, this might mean that you are more likely to have one yourself. The science on this is still unclear. It could be that any addiction in your family makes all addictions more likely down the line.
- Illness. Physical and/or mental illness is a common risk factor for many drug addictions. But for prescription drugs, there is the added issue that those who have certain illnesses are more likely to be prescribed addictive drugs. For example, severe pain is a risk factor for opioid addiction, partly because prescription opioids are used to treat severe pain.
- Past Trauma. Family history can be a big risk factor for drug abuse. People who experience trauma or abuse as children are more likely to abuse drugs. Furthermore, if you have parents or elders who abuse prescription drugs, you might learn that this is a normal or acceptable behavior.
It is important to remember that you can still get addicted to prescription drugs even if you don’t have any of the risk factors. Many of these drugs are very dangerous and addictive if they are abused. They can cause dependence after just a few cases of abuse. People with a history of prescription drug use are at a higher risk for developing addiction.
What Are the Health Risks of Prescription Drug Addiction?
Prescription drug abuse can lead to very serious health problems. Although these drugs are meant to help treat certain ailments, they can be dangerous when misused. Prescription drug addiction means someone is abusing these drugs regularly, which makes these health risks even more common and severe.
As mentioned above, there are 3 main types of prescription drugs that can lead to addiction. These are opioids, CNS (central nervous system) stimulants, and CNS depressants. The main health risks of each are outlined below:
Opioid Health Risks
- Heart infection
- Lung infection
- Liver disease
- Skin problems
- Heart attack
CNS Stimulant Health Risks
- Sleep problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Heart disease
- Weight loss
CNS Depressant Health Risks
- Loss of coordination
- Impaired memory and concentration
- Sexual dysfunction
Teens & Prescription Drugs
Teens and prescription drugs are a dangerous combination. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) calls prescription drugs the “fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S.”. They go on to say that it is affecting the lives of teenagers profoundly.
Teens tend to have less inhibitions when it comes to drug abuse, meaning they could be more likely to take large and lethal doses.
Another issue with teen prescription drug misuse is developmental problems. The teenage brain and body are still growing. Abusing prescription drugs at an early age can damage neural pathways in the brain and lead to many of the long-term health issues outlined above.
Teens may use prescription drugs because they find them in their parents’ medicine cabinets. Part of being a responsible parent is making sure that all of your medications are locked away securely so that teens cannot access the.
What Health Problems Are Caused by Prescription Drug Abuse?
Anyone who is addicted to these drugs can develop any of the major health issues listed above. Still, some people are more likely to suffer from major health problems after abusing prescription drugs.
If any of the following apply to you, you may be at higher risk for health problems associated with prescription drug abuse:
- Heavy and/or long-term drug abuse. Someone who abuses these drugs for a short period of time and then stops is at a much lower risk for major health issues than someone who has a chronic and severe addiction. The longer and more heavily prescription drugs are abused, the more likely resulting health problems are.
- Co-occurring disorders. If you already have mental or physical health conditions aside from your addiction, you could be more likely to see major health effects. Co-occurring disorders are very common in people who abuse prescription drugs, because many people abuse the drugs that were meant to treat an existing disorder.
- Other substance abuse. Some people struggle with abuse and addiction to multiple substances. If you are abusing another substance, such as alcohol, in addition to prescription drugs, you are more likely to see major health effects down the line.
- Age and overall health. People who are healthier overall will be less likely to see major effects from their drug misuse. Older and more unhealthy people, on the other hand, are more vulnerable.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
You can’t take prescription drug abuse lightly. Although these drugs can be safe and effective in treating some medical concerns, they are no more safe than any other drug when abused.
Professional addiction treatment is the only way to address the abuse of these drugs. Treatment may include elements such as behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, group counseling, and life coaching.
If you are looking for the best place to start your recovery journey, look no further. Bedrock Recovery Center is one of the nation’s leading treatment options for prescription drug abuse. Call us today to learn how we can help you towards a brighter future.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.