A prescription drug addiction affects individuals of all ethnicities and genders—here are the long-term effects of prescription drug abuse.
When prescribed for you by a doctor, these medications can indeed be helpful or even life-saving. It’s when these drugs are taken without a prescription or not as directed that they become dangerous and addictive. At higher doses or when combined with alcohol or other drugs, many prescription drugs can lead to prescription drug abuse and can become deadly.
The long term effects of prescription drugs can vary widely from person to person depending on length of use, type of drug used, and existing mental or physical health issues. For example the side effects of Adderall will be much different than the effects of Lexapro.
However, the main long term effects of prescription drug abuse are:
Increased risk of cancer
Hepatitis B and C
Mental health disorders
These effects are preventable if addiction is treated in time. It’s always advisable to reach out for help and get treatment if you’re struggling with addiction.
Generally speaking, prescription drugs are medications that are legitimately prescribed by doctors for reasons such as: to treat pain, to treat anxiety, and to treat a myriad of other serious health problems and issues. Many people assume that since they’re legal when prescribed by a doctor, they must be safer than illegal drugs.
When abused, prescription drugs can be just as dangerous, and as deadly as illegal drugs and cause drug dependence and eventually addiction. In fact, in recent years, prescription drug abuse has resulted in more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Luckily, there are addiction treatment programs, like our California rehab, and sober living homes that can help with prescription drug abuse and help you stop taking recreational drugs.
The most commonly prescription drug abuse types fall into three categories: Painkillers, Depressants, and Stimulants.
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As many know, painkillers usually contain opioids that are naturally derived from poppy flowers or are lab-made using a semi-synthetic substitute. These drugs attach to particular areas of the brain called “opioid receptors.”
When a person ingests this prescription medication , it can affect the way information pathways in the brain. In this case, the brain can no longer interpret pain signals as being painful. These are the same receptors that heroin uses to bind to inside the brain.
Unfortunately, painkiller drug abuse or even prescription drug misuse has become a serious problem. The most commonly abused brand-name painkillers include Vicodin, Oxycodone, OxyContin, and Percocet. Codeine, an opioid painkiller often found in prescription cough syrup, is also commonly abused.
Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that can be dangerous, or even deadly. This is especially true when these medicines are taken at high doses or are combined with alcohol. Of greatest concern is that a single large dose can cause stop a person's breathing and lead to death. The short-term effects of using prescription opioids and painkiller abuse can include health risks such as: lack of energy, inability to concentrate, nausea, and vomiting.
Another problem that can occur is a paradoxical effect in which the medication has the opposite effect than originally intended.
Given their effect on the brain, it's no wonder that prescription pain relievers can be a highly addictive substance when abused. Even patients who are prescribed painkillers exactly as directed can develop a “physical dependence” over time. Essentially, the body becomes accustomed to having the drug, causing drug dependence and prescription drug addiction as a result of both prescription drug use and misuse.
When a patient tries to end use of their medication abruptly, these drugs can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Any changes when using these medications must be reported to and carefully monitored by a doctor.
If a person is abusing prescription drugs, it's likely that they're dosing at higher rates. To end this prescription drug addiction, addicts will need to seek treatment at a detox or rehab facility where they can get help to stop abusing drugs.
Get evidence-based treatment to overcome prescription drug addiction at Renaissance Recovery. Call our team now to learn more about the process.
The abuse of depressants (AKA: Downers, downs, barbs, benzos, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets, candy, sleeping pills, tranks, xanies) is a widespread problem around the world and they have some of the most dangerous long-term effects of prescription drug abuse compared to the other forms of prescription drugs. The effects of depressants are powerful and addictive.
Without a doctor’s prescription and supervision, short and long term use of depressants can lead to dangerous side effects, including accidental overdose. Combining them with alcohol or other drugs increases the health risks and risk factors of death from overdose.
Those who suffer from long-term prescription drug addiction will likely need rehab or detox followed by adjustment in a sober living home.
Depressants are a highly addictive prescription drug, and when chronic users or abusers stop taking them, they can experience severe withdrawal symptoms, including:
In fact, going “cold turkey” off of some depressants can have serious consequences, like:
These withdrawal symptoms are best experienced under the care of medical professionals in a professional detox or rehab center for safety and the best success rates.
As the name implies, doctors prescribe depressants to treat a variety of mental health issues and conditions, mostly depression issues, mood problems, anxiety, panic attacks, and sleep disorders.
Depressants can be divided into three groups. The groups are based on their chemistry and the specific mental health condition or problem they help address.
These groups include:
Barbiturates, which are often prescribed to promote sleep;
Benzodiazepines, like Valium and Xanax, which are prescribed to relieve anxiety;
And the new (non-benzodiazepines) sleep medications, like Ambien and Lunesta, are commonly used to treat sleeping disorders.
Teens are especially susceptible to the side effects of depressants as prescription drug abuse affects them on an increasing level each year in the US. In teens, depressants can cause depression, confusion, exhaustion, and irritability. Part of this sensitivity to the drug in teens is due to naturally occurring hormonal imbalances or changes that are common to this age group.
Because depressants work by slowing down the brain’s activity, they can diminish heartbeat, blood pressure and respiration to dangerously low levels. This is especially true when depressants are combined with alcohol or OTC medications. This is dangerous a prescription drugs combination that can even lead to death.
Depressant prescription medications can make you depressed, confused, and irritable. And prescription drug addiction in the form of depressants increases your chances of more dangerous outcomes and withdrawal symptoms like overdose, slowed breathing and heart rate, and even death.
Prescription stimulants affect the brain through a slow and steady release of two neurotransmitters—dopamine and norepinephrine. When prescribed and taken correctly, under medical supervision, this prescription drug can help treat a few health conditions and mental health disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and, occasionally, depression.
In treating ADHD, prescription medications can help regulate and normalize the dopamine and norepinephrine function in the brain, so a patient with this condition can focus better and pay more attention. Common brand-name prescription stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Benzedrine.
Some people mistakenly believe that prescription stimulants can give them energy, help them focus, and help them perform better in school. If you haven’t been diagnosed with a condition that requires taking these prescription drugs, and aren’t taking them under a doctor’s supervision, the long-term effects of prescription drug abuse can be not only dangerous but deadly to your physical and mental health. These negative consequences like addiction and becoming physically dependent on drugs can be avoided with sobriety and the proper treatments.
At Renaissance Recovery, we treat individuals with drug or alcohol addiction in order to help them achieve sobriety from substance abuse. We offer evidence-based treatments on multiple levels of care to help treat addiction on an individualized case-by-case basis. In our care, we take into account any physical and mental health disorders that may be co-occurring with addiction to ensure the best possible recovery experience.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a serious drug use or alcohol addiction or mental health disorder, contact us today.
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