“Hey, this comes from my mother’s medicine cabinet. No way can I get hooked!” This is wrong thinking. Even if that painkiller prescribed to your mother was prescribed to her, it acts on your brain and body just like an illicit drug such as heroin. Some prescription drugs that can be addictive include methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), amphetamine (Adderal), oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, zolpidem and diazepam.
Prescription Drug Abuse Symptoms and Effects
Beginning with opiod prescription drugs, you’ll become nauseated, get high, grow constipated, feel drowsy, have poor coordination and have a slower breathing rate.
If you misuse stimulants, you’ll develop insomnia, agitation, anxiety, paranoia, experience a reduced appetite, high blood pressure and an irregular heart beat
Abusing anti-anxiety or sedative medications, you’ll become drowsy, confused, dizzy and experience unsteady walking, lack of concentration, slurred speech, memory problems and slowed breathing.
When you become addicted, you’ll begin taking more and more of the prescription medication(s), begin habitually making poor decisions, steal or forge prescriptions, become excessively hostile and appear high, sedated or energetic.
You’ll begin to “lose” those prescriptions you forged or stole and begin to seek out more and more prescriptions from more than one doctor. This is an indicator that you are becoming addicted.
Consequences of Prescription Drug Addiction
If you’re unable to obtain your prescription drug of choice, you’ll develop several withdrawal symptoms:
- Decreased self confidence and self esteem
- Bone and muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to control your thinking
Your family, friends and co-workers may notice that you are more irritable, depressed or anxious. They’ll notice that your health has declined. You’ll find yourself getting into arguments with family, friends and significant others.
You may experience problems at work and lose your job. If you begin committing crimes to obtain more of the drug, you’ll encounter legal issues. As your addiction grows deeper, your psychological health will suffer.
Oxycontin: As Effective as Heroin
Oxycodone (Oxycontin) is known as the “hillbilly heroin” because its misuse originated in Appalachian communities. It acts on your brain and nervous system in the same way as opium or heroin, leading to several crimes, such as thefts of the drug from pharmacies.
This medication has several effects, both mental and physical:
- Mental confusion
- Depressed (slowed) rate of breathing
- Increased heart attack risk
- Nausea and vomiting
- Coma at higher doses
If you suffer from emotional or mental issues, you may begin taking Oxycontin, thinking that it will help you to even out your moods or “feel better.” Instead, you’re going to make your psychological symptoms even worse, especially if you become addicted.
Causes of Prescription Drug Abuse
You may already know what led to your abuse of prescriptions, but in case you’re not aware of them, here they are:
- Environmental: Here, you’re feeling life stressors you feel you can’t deal with. As your stress levels go up, you begin taking a prescription medication that was not intended for your personal use. At lower doses, you feel better, so you continue taking it. As your tolerance for the drug grows, you begin using it at higher and higher dosages and soon, your life gets even worse.
You experience performance problems at work, with your managers calling you into the office. Your relationships begin to suffer. As you find it harder and harder to obtain enough of the drug, you resort to crime, leading to potential legal issues.
- Genetic: You may have family members who suffer from addiction issues. You may experience stresses or suffer from a mental health condition, which makes it even easier for you to become addicted once you begin misusing a prescription medication.
- Brain chemistry: Prescription drugs have certain effects on your brain, making you feel more alert, calmer, happier or giving you a sense of increased energy. You enjoy how much better you feel when you take these medications, even when they aren’t prescribed for you.
Over time, you realize that using the minimum dosage doesn’t give you the same effects as you felt before. You increase your dosage and, over several months or longer, you continue to increase how much medication you take, until one day, your body can’t take any more. You collapse and, in the hospital, the doctors begin to ask you why you are taking a medication not intended for you.