Prescription Drug Abuse : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Nonmedical use of prescription drugs is when you take a medication for a reason other than what the doctor prescribed it. It is estimated that more than 18 million people aged 12 and older have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in the previous year. That's nearly 6% of the US population.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Prescription Drug Abuse

Taking prescription drugs can change how your brain works. Most people start taking these medications by choosing to do so. But over time the changes in your brain affect your ability to make good decisions and to resist temptation. At the same time you have intense urges to take more drugs.

  1. Medical And Anatomical Concept Of The Human Body

Medical terms

  • Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription medication in a very manner not supposed by the prescribing doctor. Medicine abuse or problematic use embodies everything from taking a friend' prescription medication for your ache to snorting or injecting ground-up pills to induce high. abuse might become current and compulsive, despite the negative consequences. associate degree increasing problem, prescription drug abuse will have an effect on all age groups, as well as teens. The prescribed drugs most frequently abused include opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and stimulants. Early identification of prescription drug abuse and early intervention may forestall the matter from turning into associate degree addiction. 
  • on the rise in America Drug abuse is a major problem that affects American society Everyday people go to their doctors and receive prescriptions in order to alleviate pain or treat an illness These drugs are frequently very powerful and contain substances that can cause addiction or dependency if used improperly The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than three out of every four drug overdose deaths in 2014 involved opioid medications This class of drugs includes prescription opioids as well as heroin.

is on the rise because… The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that prescription drug abuse has tripled since 1992. This increase correlates with the use of these drugs by women whose rates are higher than men In fact more women now die from prescription drug overdose than from breast cancer and accidents combined No single cause can account for such a dramatic increase in this type of substance abuse There are many factors involved including a growing number of prescriptions being written for painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone as well as their increased availability from sources other than doctors' offices and pharmacies Many people who get addicted to.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has three types of prescription drugs that are often abused: 

  • Opioids Since the 1990s, doctors have been prescribing more opioid painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone, morphine (Astramorph Avinza Kadian MS Contin Oramorph SR), and oxycodone (OxyContin Percocet Vicodin). This is because more people are aging in the U.S., and these drugs work well for people with pain. People with long-term pain live with the pain every day.

These medicines manage pain well and can make your life better in the short term. It's possible to become addicted to or dependent on opioids if you take them for a short time or under close medical supervision. But it's not common for people to become addicted this way. Taking prescription drugs for a long time can lead to drug abuse, dependence and addiction.

If you overdose on opioids, it can be life-threatening. If you take them with medications that work on your central nervous system, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin) or diazepam (Valium), you have a higher chance of experiencing breathing problems or even death. This passage talks about death.

Opioids can cause a mild "high." Some people use them illegally by snorting or injecting them, which produces a quicker effect. This increases the risk of getting diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressantsBenzodiazepines (Ativan Valium Xanax) are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, including insomnia. They work by affecting a chemical in your brain called GABA. GABA reduces brain activity, making you drowsy or calm.

Barbiturates, including amobarbital (Amytal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), and secobarbital (Seconal), are also CNS depressants. These drugs are used for anesthesia and to treat seizures.

It may take a few days or weeks for CNS depressants to work. But after a while, you may need larger doses to achieve the same calming effect. Taking them with alcohol can lead to slowed heartbeat, slow breathing, and even death.

If you take CNS depressants for a long time and stop, you might have dangerous problems such as withdrawal seizures.

  • StimulantsThese drugs give your body a quick start with a large boost of energy and attention.These things happen when your heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure go up. They also narrow your blood vessels and open your airways.

Doctors have been using stimulants to treat asthma and obesity for many years. Today, they prescribe stimulants for conditions such as ADHD, ADD, depression, and narcolepsy. Some examples of stimulants are Dexedrine Dextrostat ProCentra (Dexedrine), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), methylphenidate (Concerta Daytrana Methylin), and others. Ritalin and a mix of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are used to treat ADHD.

People who abuse stimulants, such as by taking higher doses or by crushing pills and snorting them, can develop an addiction. High doses of stimulants can raise your body temperature. People who misuse stimulants or use them along with decongestants may experience an irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms Prescription Drug Abuse

Signs and symptoms of medicament abuse rely upon the precise drug. as a result of their psychotropic properties, the foremost usually abused pharmaceuticals are:

  • Opioids used to treat pain, for example medications containing oxycodone — such as Oxycontin and Percocet — and those containing hydrocodone — such as Norco

  • Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), and hypnotics, such as zolpidem (Ambien), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders

  • Stimulants, such as Ritalin (Ritalin, Concerta, others), dextroamphetamine and stimulant drug (Adderall XR, Mydayis), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), wont to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sure sleep disorders Signs and symptoms of prescription abuse 


Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives


  • Constipation

  • Nausea

  • Feeling high (euphoria)

  • Slowed breathing rate

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion

  • Poor coordination

  • Increased dose required for pain relief

  • Worsening or increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses (hyperalgesia)

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion

  • Unsteady walking

  • Slurred speech

  • Poor concentration

  • Dizziness

  • Problems with memory

  • Slowed breathing

  • Increased alertness

  • Feeling high

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • High blood pressure

  • High body temperature

  • Reduced appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Agitation

  • Anxiety

  • Paranoia

Other signs include:

  • Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions

  • Taking higher doses than prescribed

  • Excessive mood swings or hostility

  • Increase or decrease in sleep

  • Poor decision-making

  • Appearing to be high, unusually energetic or revved up, or sedated

  • Requesting early refills or continually "losing" prescriptions, so more prescriptions must be written

  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor

When to see a doctor

Talk along with your doctor if you're thinking that you'll have a haul with medicine use. you'll feel embarrassed to speak concerning it — however keep in mind that medical professionals are trained to assist you, not decide you. It's easier to tackle the matter early before it becomes associated with addiction and ends up in more-serious problems. 

Drug abuse can lead to many problems.

Taking prescription drugs without a doctor's permission can have dangerous or deadly consequences, especially if you take medications along with the ones listed above.

  • Opioids may cause vomiting, breathing problems, a coma, or death.

  • CNS depressants can slow your heart rate or breathing. If you stop taking the drug or reduce the dose too quickly, you may have seizures.

  • Abuse of stimulants might cause a high body temperature, an irregular heartbeat, aggression, paranoia, heart failure or seizures.

If you use drugs excessively, you are more likely to become dependent on or addicted to them. You are also more likely to commit a crime, be the victim of a crime, or have an accident.

Causes Prescription Drug Abuse

Never combine opioids and CNS depressants, including alcohol. This can result in dangerous side effects.

  • Alcohol

  • Antihistamines

  • Barbiturates

  • Benzodiazepines

  • Sleep medications

  • General anesthetics

Don't mix CNS depressants with other things that can dull your central nervous system, such as medication for colds or the common over-the-counter painkillers.

  • Alcohol

  • Prescription pain medicines that contain opioids

  • Some over-the-counter cold and allergy medications can cause drowsiness.

Be careful using stimulants along with other substances that stimulate your nervous system, including:

  • Doctors prescribe antidepressants for people who are experiencing depression. This is done under the supervision of a doctor.

  • There are over-the-counter decongestant medications that can be used to relieve congestion.

  • Some asthma medications

Teens and adults abuse prescription drugs for many reasons, such as:

  • To feel good or get high

  • To relax or relieve tension

  • To reduce appetite or increase alertness

  • To experiment with the mental effects of the substance

  • To maintain an addiction and prevent withdrawal

  • To be accepted by peers or to be social

  • To try to improve concentration and academic or work performance

Risk factors Prescription Drug Abuse

Some things about you might increase your chances of abusing prescription drugs. Some of these risk factors include your:

  • People's influence on others

  • Age

  • Your genes can affect your biology.

  • Mental health

  • Be aware of prescription drugs and how they can injure you.

Some folks are concerned that they'll become keen about medications prescribed for medical conditions, and adore painkillers prescribed once surgery. however you'll be able to scale back your risk by fastidiously following your doctor' directions on a way to take your medication. prescription abuse can happen at any age, but ordinarily begins in teens or young adults.

Risk factors for prescription drug abuse include:

  • Past or present addictions to other substances, including alcohol and tobacco

  • Family history of substance abuse problems

  • Certain pre-existing psychiatric conditions

  • Exposure to peer pressure or a social environment where there's drug use

  • Easier access to prescription drugs, such as having prescription medications in the home medicine cabinet

  • Lack of knowledge about prescription drugs and their potential harm

Older adults and prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse in older adults may be a growing problem, particularly once they mix medication with alcohol. Having multiple health issues and taking multiple drugs will place seniors in danger of misusing drugs or changing into addiction.

Complications Prescription Drug Abuse

Abusing pharmaceuticals will cause a variety of problems. pharmaceuticals may be particularly dangerous — and even result in death — once taken in high doses, when combined with alternative prescription drugs or bound over-the-counter medications, or when dotty alcohol or bootleg or recreational drugs.

Medical consequences

Here are examples of serious consequences of prescription drug abuse:

  • Opioids can cause low blood pressure, a slowed breathing rate and potential for breathing to stop, or a coma. Overdose has a significant risk of death.

  • Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives can cause memory problems, low pressure and slowed breathing. dose can cause coma or death. Suddenly stopping the medication could cause withdrawal symptoms that may embrace system upset and seizures. 

  • Stimulants can cause dangerously high body temperature, heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures or tremors, hallucinations, aggressiveness, and paranoia.

Physical dependence and addiction

Because unremarkably abused prescribed drugs activate the brain' reward center, it' attainable to develop physical dependence and addiction.

  • Physical dependence. Physical dependence (also referred to as tolerance) is the body' response to long-run use. People that are physically obsessed with a drug may have higher doses to urge identical effects and will experience withdrawal symptoms once cutting short or suddenly stopping the drug. Physical dependence may additionally become evident if a drug the body becomes adjusted to over time, even while not dose change, is stopped abruptly. 

  • Addiction. People who are captivated with a drug will have physical dependence, however they conjointly obsessively look for a drug and still use it even once that drug causes vital issues in their lives. 

Other consequences

Other potential consequences include:

  • Engaging in risky behaviors because of poor judgment

  • Using illegal or recreational drugs

  • Being involved in crime

  • Motor vehicle accidents

  • Decreased academic or work performance

  • Troubled relationships

What is the most abused prescribed drug?

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services more than 22 million Americans abuse prescription drugs every year Among these painkillers are the most common type of drug abused with 2.1 million people using them without a doctor’s order in 2001 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) The majority of those who used painkillers without a prescription did so for non-medical reasons including getting high or among teenagers to numb bad feelings or treat depression.

How do I stop taking prescription drugs?

If you think that you have a drug abuse problem then the first part of solving this problem is to admit it Most prescription addicts become very good at denying their problem to themselves and others Once you admit that there is a problem seek advice from your doctor They can help you find ways to break the addiction and reduce your reliance on drugs Relaxation exercises are one way to take the edge off and stop craving drugs While some people use walking or yoga physical activities tend to increase rather than decrease cravings A better idea would be practices such as meditation or tai chi These meditative activities slow.

Why do mental health patients stop taking their medication?

This is a question that affects almost every individual at some point in life Mental health patients stop taking the medication for various reasons Some patients do not want to take medications and others do not like to be dependent on the medication There are also some who think that medicines only treat symptoms and fail to address the root cause of their problems.

How can I reduce the side effects of drugs?

Use drugs with caution Even when taken at the right dose drugs can have side effects A few simple strategies to minimize their impact include taking the drug exactly as prescribed and told using it only when needed as opposed to on a regular basis avoiding drugs that aren’t really necessary and getting help from health care providers if you’re not feeling well.

How long does it take to flush medication out of your system?

Medications are used to promote better health in the body However some people have a hard time fully metabolizing these medications and they can stay in your system for a long time which leads to various types of complications That is why it is important to understand just how soon you should expect medications will completely pass through your urinary tract __ Write a paragraph about : How sleeping more improves memory? Not getting enough sleep has serious consequences on your body and well-being but did you know that too little sleep affects your cognition and ability to remember things? Not only can poor sleep cause attention issues or lead.

Can drinking too much water affect medication?

It is generally recommended that people drink plenty of water particularly those who work out regularly or are in the military Water helps to keep the body healthy by properly hydrating you maintaining good blood flow and helping you eliminate toxins through your urine However drinking too much water can lead to a condition referred to as hyponatremia which occurs when there is an excess of water in the bloodstream but not enough sodium (salt).

Prevention Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse might occur in those that would like painkillers, sedatives or stimulants to treat a medical condition. If you're taking a normally abused drug, here are ways that to scale back your risk:

  • Make sure you're getting the right medication. Make sure your doctor clearly understands your condition and also the signs and symptoms. Tell your doctor regarding all of your prescriptions, additionally as over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements, and alcohol and alternative drug use. raise your doctor whether or not there's an alternate medication with ingredients that have less potential for addiction. 

  • Check in with your doctor. Talk with your doctor on a regular basis to make sure that the medication you're taking is working and you're taking the right dose.

  • Follow directions carefully. Use your medication the method it absolutely was prescribed. Don't stop or amend the dose of a drug on your own if it doesn't appear to be operating while not apprehending your doctor. For example, if you're taking pain medication that doesn't adequately control your pain, don't take more. 

  • Know what your medication does. Ask your doctor or pill pusher regarding the consequences of your medication, therefore you recognize what to expect. conjointly check if different drugs, over-the-counter merchandise or alcohol ought to be avoided once taking this medication. 

  • Never use another person's prescription. Everyone is different. Even if you have a similar medical condition, it may not be the right medication or dose for you.

  • Don't order prescriptions online unless they're from a trustworthy pharmacy. Some websites sell counterfeit prescription and nonprescription drugs that could be dangerous.

Preventing prescription drug abuse in teens

Prescription drugs are usually victimized substances by young people. Follow these steps to assist forestall your adolescent from abusing prescription medications.

  • Discuss the dangers. Emphasize to your teenager that simply because medicine is prescribed by a doctor doesn't build them safe — particularly if they were prescribed to some {other person} or if your kid is already taking other prescription medications. 

  • Set rules. Let your teenager understand that it's not alright to share medications with others — or to require medication prescribed for others. Emphasize the importance of taking the prescribed dose and talking with the doctor before creating changes. 

  • Discuss the dangers of alcohol use. Using alcohol with medications can increase the risk of accidental overdose.

  • Keep your prescription drugs safe. Keep track of drug quantities and keep them in a locked medicine cabinet.

  • Make sure your child isn't ordering drugs online. Some websites sell counterfeit and dangerous drugs that may not require a prescription.

  • Properly dispose of medications. Don't leave unused or expired  medicine around. Check the label or patient info guide for disposal instructions, or raise your apothecary for recommendation on disposal. 

The Food and Drug Administration has these guidelines for safe prescription medication use:

  • Always follow the directions carefully.

  • Do not change the dose of your medication without first talking to your doctor.

  • Do not stop taking your medication without first talking to a doctor.

  • Don't crush or break pills, especially if they are time-released.

  • Be sure to understand how a drug will affect your driving and other daily tasks.

  • Be aware of what can happen if you take medication with alcohol or other prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This includes things like drowsiness, dizziness, and blurred vision.

  • Tell your doctor if you have a history of substance abuse. Substance abuse can be a problem for people of all ages.

  • Do not let other people use your prescription medications and do not take theirs.

Diagnosis Prescription Drug Abuse

Doctors typically base a diagnosis of medicament abuse on anamnesis and answers to alternative questions. In some cases, bound signs and symptoms also give clues. Blood or excrement tests can notice many sorts of drugs. These tests also can facilitate tracking the progress of an individual who' obtaining treatment.

  1. Immunologic blood test

Treatment Prescription Drug Abuse

Opioid addiction can be treated with medications that help people stay sober without a high risk of relapse.

Buprenorphine is a drug that helps people overcome opiate withdrawal and dependence. Doctors often prescribe it along with the drug naloxone (which can be called Bunavail Suboxone or Zubsolv) to help prevent relapse.

If you have been taking buprenorphine pills and your body eliminated all of the drug you were abusing, you might have another form of the drug implanted under your skin- this is called Probuphine. Probuphine provides a continuous dose of buprenorphine for six months. Additionally, Sublocade is a shot that comes monthly.

There are other ways to treat opiate withdrawal. Methadone and the blood pressure medication Clonidine can help block the effects of opioids and prevent a relapse. Revia (a tablet) or Vivitrol (an injection) can be taken orally or monthly.

Doctors recommend that people who misuse opioids have naloxone on hand in case of an overdose. Naloxone comes in a shot (Evzio) and a nasal spray (Narcan).

Experts believe that using medication to treat opioid addiction with methadone, naltrexone, or suboxone and cognitive behavioral therapy is the best treatment for most patients.

Counseling is one of the most common treatments for addiction to CNS depressants or stimulants. You might also need to detoxify (“detox”) your body under a doctor’s care.

Treatment choices for prescription abuse vary, reckoning on the kind of drug used and your needs. However counseling, or typically psychotherapy, is usually a key part of treatment. Treatment may need withdrawal (detoxification), addiction medication and recovery support.


A commissioned alcohol and drug counselor or different addiction specialist can give individual, cluster or family counseling. this will facilitate you:

  • Determine what factors may have led to the prescription drug abuse, such as an underlying mental health problem or relationship problems

  • Learn the skills needed to resist cravings, avoid abuse of drugs and help prevent recurrence of prescription drug problems

  • Learn strategies for developing positive relationships

  • Identify ways to become involved in healthy activities that aren't related to drugs

  • Learn the steps to take if a relapse happens


Depending on the ethical drug and usage, detoxification could also be required as a part of treatment. Withdrawal is dangerous and will be done underneath a doctor' care.

  • Opioid withdrawal. Opioid tapering involves bit by bit decreasing the dose of medication till it' now not used. alternative medications — appreciate antihypertensive drugs (Catapres), a drug principally used for top force per unit area — will facilitate managing opioid withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine, buprenorphine with narcotic antagonist (Suboxone) or methadon could also be utilized by doctors beneath specific, de jure regulated and monitored conditions to ease symptoms of withdrawal from opioid painkillers. medication given by injection once a month by a health care supplier might help individuals avoid opioids throughout their recovery. Examples embrace Vivitrol, a preparation of the drug naltrexone, or Sublocade, a preparation of the drug buprenorphine. 

  • Withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications and sedatives. If you've used prescription sedatives or anti-anxiety medication for a protracted time, it should take weeks to slowly taper off them. owing to withdrawal symptoms, it will take that long for your body to regulate to low doses of the medication then get accustomed to taking none at all. you'll want alternative varieties of medication to stabilize your mood, manage the ultimate phases of tapering or ease anxiety. You'll have to work closely together with your doctor. 

  • Stimulant withdrawal. There are not any FDA-approved medicines used for treating stimulant withdrawal. Treatment usually focuses on really fizzling out the medication and relieving withdrawal symptoms — similar to sleep problems, weariness and depression. 

Coping and support

Overcoming ethical drug abuse may be difficult and stressful, often requiring the support of family, friends or organizations. Here' wherever to seem for help:

  • Trusted family members or friends

  • Your doctor, who may be able to recommend resources

  • Self-help groups, such as a 12-step program

  • Your church or faith group

  • School counselor or nurse

  • Support groups, either in person or from a trustworthy website

  • Your employee assistance program, which may offer counseling services for substance abuse problems

You may be embarrassed to evoke relief or afraid that your members of the family are going to be angry or judgmental. you will worry that your friends will distance themselves from you. however within the long run, the people that actually care concerning you'll respect your honesty and your call to ask for help.

Helping a loved one

It is often troublesome to approach your beloved concerning medication abuse. Denial and anger are common reactions, and you will fret about making conflict or damaging your relationship therewith person. Be understanding and patient. Let the person grasp that you just care about his or her well-being. Encourage your loved one to be honest about drug use and to just accept facilitation if needed. someone is able to reply to feedback from somebody he or she trusts. If the matter continues, any intervention is also necessary.


It's difficult to assist a beloved combating drug issues or alternative harmful behavior. folks that struggle with habit-forming behaviors are typically in denial or unwilling to hunt treatment. and that they might not acknowledge the negative effects their behavior has on themselves et al.. Associate in Nursing intervention will encourage somebody to seek help for addictive behaviors. Associate in Nursing intervention could be a rigorously planned method involving family and friends and others who care for a few people struggling with addiction. Consulting an intervention skilled (interventionist), an addiction specialist, a scientist or a psychological state counselor can assist you organize an effective intervention. This is often a chance to confront the person regarding the implications of addiction. Associate in Nursing Praise him or her to just accept treatment. think about an intervention as giving your beloved a transparent opportunity to create changes before things get very bad.

Preparing for your appointment

Your medical aid doctor could also be ready to assist you overcome a prescription medicine abuse problem. However, if you have got AN addiction, your doctor might refer you to an addiction specialist or to a facility that makes a specialty of serving folks withdrawing from drugs.

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:

  • All the medications you're taking, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs and supplements, as well as the dose and frequency

  • Any symptoms you're experiencing

  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes

  • Questions to ask your doctor

Questions to ask your doctor may include:

  • What are my treatment options?

  • How long does it take for treatment to work?

  • Should I see a specialist?

  • How can we manage my other health conditions during treatment?

  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask these questions:

  • What prescription medications do you take? How much and how often do you take them?

  • How long have you had this problem?

  • What, if anything, prompted it?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • Do you have a past history of drug abuse or addiction?

  • Do you use recreational or illegal drugs? Do you smoke?

  • Has anyone in your family had a history of drug abuse or addiction?

Be able to answer these queries in order that you'll specialize in points you wish to pay longer on. Getting ready and anticipating questions can assist you build the foremost of it slowly with the doctor.

General summary

  1. Prescription drug abusers often find themselves living in a cycle of dependency due to the need for bigger and stronger doses to get the same pain relief Individuals who abuse prescription drugs may face serious health risks including life-threatening withdrawal symptoms stroke or heart attack For this reason medical professionals usually recommend that those who are abusing prescription drugs quit cold turkey with no treatment However evidence-based treatments can be highly effective when combined with behavioral counseling therapies that address negative behavior and help patients learn new ways to cope effectively with emotional distress.

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