Effects of Abusing Opioids
Abusing opioids can cause low blood pressure and a slowed breathing rate. This has the potential for breathing to stop or a coma to occur. An opioid overdose has a high risk of death.
Effects of Abusing Anti-Anxiety Medications and Sedatives
These medications can cause memory problems, slowed breathing, and low blood pressure. Stopping the medication suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms that can include seizures and nervous system hyperactivity.
Effects of Abusing Stimulants
Abuse of stimulants can cause:
- a dangerously high body temperature
- high blood pressure
- heart problems
- seizures or tremors
Additional Consequences of Prescription Drug Abuse
Additional potential consequences of abusing prescription drugs include:
- Taking part in risky behaviors due to poor judgment
- Getting involved in crime
- Decrease in school or work performance
- Damaged relationships
- Car accidents
Effects That Abusing Prescription Drugs Can Have on Your Brain
Neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, send messages by attaching to receptors on
nearby cells. The actions of these transmitters and receptors cause the effects of prescription drug abuse. Each type of prescription drug works a little differently in the brain and can cause actions that are harmful to the body.
- Opioid pain medications. Opioids attach themselves to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors–the same ones that respond to heroin. These receptors are found on nerve cells in many areas of the brain and body, particularly the areas involved with pain and pleasure.
- Prescription stimulants. Ritalin and other stimulants have similar effects to cocaine when abused by causing the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine to build up in the brain.
- Prescription depressants make you feel relaxed and calm, similar to club drugs GHB and Rohypnol, especially when abused.
Some Causes of Prescription Drug Abuse
Adults and teens abuse prescription drugs for many reasons including:
- To feel good or get high
- To relieve tension and relax
- increase alertness or reduce appetite
- experiment with the effects of the drug
- To prevent withdrawal and maintain addiction
- Peer pressure
- To improve concentration and school or work performance
Can You Overdose or Die if You Abuse Prescription Drugs?
You can. More than half of the drug overdose deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by prescription drug misuse. Deaths each year from abuse of pain relievers, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants steadily increased throughout the 1990s. It then peaked in 2017, decreased in 2018 and 2019, and rose again in 2020.
Increases in deaths due to prescription drug abuse were connected to a rise in the misuse of prescription opioid pain relievers and the presence of fentanyl (a powerful opioid) in the drug supply. In fact, in 2013 only 9% of deaths from prescription drugs involved fentanyl.
By 2019, more than 46% of deaths from prescription drugs involved fentanyl. However, amongst people aged 15 – 24, prescription drug abuse rates remain fairly steady over the last decade.
Mixing different types of prescription drugs can be especially dangerous. For example, opioids interact with benzodiazepines and increase the risk of overdose. Combining opioids with alcohol can worsen breathing problems and lead to death.
Reducing Your Risk
If you’re taking commonly abused prescription drugs, here are some ways to reduce your risk of developing an addiction.
- Make sure you’re getting the correct medication. Be sure that your doctor clearly understands your condition. Talk about all your prescriptions, including over-the-counter medicines, herbs, supplements, alcohol, and other drug use.
- Check with your doctor. Talk to your doctor regularly to make sure the medication that you’re using is working and you’re taking the right dose.
- Follow the instructions carefully. Be sure to use your medication the way it was prescribed.
- Learn what your medication does. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about the medication’s effects so you’ll know what to expect.
- Never use someone else’s prescription. Everyone is different.
- Don’t buy prescriptions online unless it’s from a trustworthy pharmacy. Some websites sell counterfeit prescription drugs that may be dangerous.
Treating Prescription Drug Addiction
Options for treating prescription drug abuse vary depending on the type of drug used and your individual needs. Psychotherapy or counseling is usually the main component of prescription drug addiction treatment. Medically supervised withdrawal due to detoxification (detoxification) might also be required as well as withdrawal medication and recovery support.
Depending on the drug and how often it’s used, detox might be needed as part of prescription drug addiction treatment. Withdrawal from prescription drugs can be dangerous and should be done with medical monitoring.
Opioid tapering means slowly decreasing the dose of opioids you take until it’s not used anymore. Medications such as clonidine can help manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine, Suboxone, or methadone might be used under specific legally regulated conditions to ease symptoms of withdrawal.
If you’ve used sedatives of anti-anxiety drugs for a long time, it might take weeks to slowly taper off from them. You may also need other medications to stabilize your mood, manage the final days of tapering, or help with anxiety. You need to work closely with medical supervision.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any FDA-approved drugs for treating stimulant withdrawal. Typically, treatment focuses on tapering and relieving withdrawal symptoms like sleep problems, tiredness, and depression.
A licensed drug and alcohol counselor or addiction specialist can provide group, individual, and family counseling. In addition, therapists can provide you with different behavioral therapies which have been shown to be highly effective in treating SUD.
These treatment methods can help you:
- Find out what factors might have led to prescription drug abuse. There might be a co-occurring mental health problem (this is called a dual diagnosis) or relationship problems.
- Learn the necessary skills to resist cravings, avoid abuse of drugs, and help prevent a relapse of prescription drug problems.
- Learn strategies for fostering positive relationships
- Recognize ways to become involved in healthy activities (not related to drugs).
- Learn the steps to take in case a relapse occurs
Of course, the length and type of treatment program depend on your needs and requirements. Treatment facilities frequently offer several levels of care including:
When to Get Professional Treatment
Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you’ve abused prescription drugs and now suffer from dependency or addiction. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. Medical professionals are trained to help you, not judge you. And it’s easier to tackle a problem early on before it becomes an addiction and causes more serious problems.
If you or someone close to you has developed a problem with prescription drug abuse or addiction, there is a prescription drug addiction treatment program for you here in Manchester, NH.
Live Free Recovery Services in Manchester, NH can provide you with a comprehensive program designed specifically for your issues. Our staff is compassionate, experienced, professionally trained, and dedicated to helping people just like you. Contact us today and live your life free of addiction.