As pharmaceuticals have become a standard in Western medicine, prescription drug abuse is increasingly common in the United States. Prescription drugs are just as addictive, if not more so than many types of street drugs. They are abused by people of every class, age and profession. If you or someone you love is abusing or addicted to medications, call the treatment professionals at Drug Rehab Centers New Rochelle at (914) 829-5807.
Prescription drug abuse can be defined as using a medication for any purpose other than its intended purpose, taking medication in a way other than prescribed by a doctor or taking medication that is intended for someone else to get high. Even when someone has a legitimate medical issue, they can become addicted over time.
When a person abuses or is addicted to pharmaceuticals certain behaviors that indicate a problem may be noticed by family or friends. Some of these behaviors include seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor, mood swings, stealing medications from others, taking more medication than is prescribed, or continuously running out or “losing” medication in-between refills. While some of these behaviors may occur from time to time, a repeated pattern or multiple behaviors signals a problem.
Symptoms of addiction to medications can vary widely depending on what type of medication is being abused. Some signs of addiction include depression, a high tolerance to the drug that has developed over time, experiencing “flu-like” symptoms within 24 hours of not taking the drug, weight loss, excessive drowsiness or activity, and insomnia.
Prescription drugs are divided into five categories according to the risk of potential addiction. These categories include:
Schedule I drugs – Prescription medications are not classified as Schedule I drugs; only “street drugs” fall into this category (e.g. ecstasy and heroin).
Schedule II drugs- These drugs have a very high potential for addiction and include drugs like Fentanyl, OxyContin and Vicodin.
Schedule III drugs – These drugs have a lower risk for abuse and addiction. Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine fall into this category.
Schedule IV drugs – These drugs have a very low risk for addiction and include medications such as Ativan and Tramadol.
Schedule V drugs – Drugs in this class have an extremely low risk for addiction and include medications like Robitussin AC and Lyrica.
Health-risks from prescription drug use include accidental overdose and death, increased or weak heart rate, irreversible organ damage to the kidneys and liver, paranoia, depression, seizures and brain damage. Of course, after repeated use severe withdrawal symptoms occur. Withdrawal can be more than uncomfortable, it can be deadly if attempted without proper medical supervision. Stimulants can cause extreme weight loss, dehydration and chronic insomnia.