Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—that is, taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. This occurs when a doctor prescribes a potentially addictive drug and the patient grows dependent upon it. In some cases, patients find that the original dosage simply no longer works, and steadily up their dose, creating tolerance that ultimately leads to dependency.
Prescription drug abuse is at an all-time high in America. Here are certain signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for in order to recognize. These medications might be necessary for short or long term use in some cases. However, the sad truth “ANYONE” can go from taking a prescription as directed…but become an addict!
Here’s a list of side effects and possible danger to your health over an extended period of time:
Prescription and OTC drugs may be abused in one or more of the following ways:
Taking a medication that has been prescribed for somebody else. Unaware of the dangers of sharing medications, people often unknowingly contribute to this form of abuse by sharing their unused pain relievers with their family members.
These are some of the common signs when your prescription drug becomes an addiction:
Opioids can produce drowsiness, cause constipation, and—depending upon the amount taken—depress breathing. The latter effect makes opioids particularly dangerous, especially when they are snorted or injected or combined with other drugs or alcohol.
Abusing prescription medication can take an extreme toll on your body. You can severely damage your lungs since the opiates and similar drugs can suppress the body’s ability to breathe. A medical research found that opiate abuse is associated with a greater risk of pneumonia.
Your stomach and intestines can also be affected by prescription drug abuse. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, a narcotics abuser can suffer from something called narcotic bowel syndrome. This is the result of the slowing down of the bowel function. The symptoms of this syndrome include nausea, bloating, vomiting, abdominal distention, and constipation.
|Substances: Category & Name||Pharmaceutical Names|
|BARBITURATES||Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital|
|BENZODIAZEPINES||Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin|
|SLEEP MEDICATIONS||Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone)|
Acute Effects: Sedation/drowsiness, reduced anxiety, feelings of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination, and memory
For barbiturates – euphoria, unusual excitement, fever, irritability
Health Risks: Slowed pulse, lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, tolerance, withdrawal, addiction; increased risk of respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol
For barbiturates – life-threatening withdrawal in chronic users
|OPIOIDS & MORPHINE DERIVATIVES|
|Substances: Category & Name||Pharmaceutical Names|
|CODEINE||Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine|
|FENTANYL & ANALOGS||Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze|
|OTHER OPIOID PAIN RELIEVERS (OXYCODONE HCL, HYDROCODONE BITARTRATE, HYDROMORPHONE, OXYMORPHONE, MEPERIDINE, PROPOXYPHENE)||Tylox, Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Dilaudid, Numorphan, Numorphone, Darvon, Darvocet|
Acute Effects: Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, weakness, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, dry mouth, itching, sweating, clammy skin, constipation
For fentanyl – 80–100 times more potent analgesic than morphine
For oxycodone – muscle relaxation, twice as potent analgesic as morphine
For codeine – less analgesia, sedation, and respiratory depression than morphine
For methadone – used to treat opioid addiction and pain; significant overdose risk when used improperly
Health Risks: Slowed or arrested breathing, lowered pulse and blood pressure, tolerance, addiction, unconsciousness, coma, death; risk of death increased when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants
For oxycodone – high potential for misuse
|Substances: Category & Name||Examples of Commercial & Street Names|
|AMPHETAMINES||Biphetamine, Dexedrine, Adderall|
Acute Effects: Feelings of exhilaration, increased energy, mental alertness
For amphetamines – rapid breathing, tremor, loss of coordination, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness
Health Risks: Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism, reduced appetite, weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, seizures, heart attack, stroke
For amphetamines – delirium, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, tolerance, addiction
For methylphenidate – increase or decrease in blood pressure, digestive problems, loss of appetite, weight loss
Methamphetamine (also called meth, crystal, chalk, and ice, among other terms) is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine. It takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder.
Methamphetamine is taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected. Smoking or injecting the drug delivers it very quickly to the brain, where it produces an immediate, intense euphoria. Because the pleasure also fades quickly, users often take repeated doses, in a “binge and crash” pattern
Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same physical effects as those of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines. These include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature. Long-term methamphetamine use has many negative consequences for physical health, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), and skin sores caused by scratching.
Methamphetamine use also raises the risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C. These can be contracted both by sharing contaminated drug injection equipment and through unsafe sex. Regardless of how it is taken, methamphetamine alters judgment and inhibition and can lead people to engage in these and other types of risky behavior.
Methamphetamine use may also worsen the progression of HIV/AIDS and its consequences. Studies indicate that HIV causes more injury to neurons and greater cognitive impairment in individuals who are HIV-positive and use methamphetamine than it does in HIV-positive people who do not use the drug.
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. Extracts with high amounts of THC can also be made from the cannabis plant. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.1 Its use is widespread among young people. According to a yearly survey of middle and high school students, rates of marijuana use have steadied in the past few years after several years of increase. However, the number of young people who believe marijuana use is risky is decreasing.
People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). They also smoke it in blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana. To avoid inhaling smoke, more people are using vaporizers. These devices pull the active ingredients (including THC) from the marijuana and collect their vapor in a storage unit. A person then inhales the vapor, not the smoke. Users can mix marijuana in food (edibles), such as brownies, cookies, or candy, or brew it as a tea. A newly popular method of use is smoking or eating different forms of THC-rich resins
Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. However, study findings have been mixed.
Compared to nonusers, heavy marijuana users more often report the following:
Users also report less academic and career success. For example, marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school.
Some research suggests that marijuana use is likely to come before use of other drugs. Marijuana use is also linked to addiction to other substances, including nicotine. In addition, animal studies show that the THC in marijuana makes other drugs more pleasurable to the brain. Although these findings support the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug,” the majority of people who use marijuana don’t go on to use other “harder” drugs.
Contrary to common belief, marijuana can be addictive. Research suggests that 30 percent of users may develop some degree of problem use, which can lead to dependence and in severe cases takes the form of addiction. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more like than adults to develop problem use. Dependence becomes addiction when the person can’t stop using marijuana even though it interferes with his or her daily life.
Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. These include:
Behavioral support has been effective in treating marijuana addiction. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain substance free). No medications are currently available to treat marijuana addiction. However, continuing research may lead to new medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.
3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception. MDMA was initially popular in the nightclub scene and at all-night dance parties (“raves”), but the drug now affects a broader range of people who more commonly call the drug Ecstasy or Molly.
People who use MDMA usually take it as a capsule or tablet, though some swallow it in liquid form or snort the powder. The popular nickname Molly (slang for “molecular”) often refers to the supposedly “pure” crystalline powder form of MDMA, usually sold in capsules. However, people who purchase powder or capsules sold as Molly often actually get other drugs such as synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”) instead (see “Added Risk of MDMA”). Some people take MDMA in combination with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana.
High doses of MDMA can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature. This can lead to a spike in body temperature that can occasionally result in liver, kidney, or heart failure or even death. In addition, because MDMA can promote trust and closeness, its use—especially combined with sildenafil (Viagra®)—may encourage unsafe sexual behavior. This increases people’s risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
Heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”
Heroin can be injected, inhaled by snorting or sniffing, or smoked. All three routes of administration deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly, which contributes to its health risks and to its high risk for addiction, which is a chronic relapsing disease caused by changes in the brain and characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter the consequences.
Heroin abuse is associated with a number of serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, and infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV (see box, “Injection Drug Use and HIV and HCV Infection”). Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, constipation and gastrointestinal cramping, and liver or kidney disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the user as well as from heroin’s effects on breathing.
A variety of effective treatments are available for heroin addiction, including both behavioral and pharmacological (medications). Both approaches help to restore a degree of normalcy to brain function and behavior, resulting in increased employment rates and lower risk of HIV and other diseases and criminal behavior. Although behavioral and pharmacologic treatments can be extremely useful when utilized alone, research shows that for some people, integrating both types of treatments is the most effective approach.
Scientific research has established that pharmacological treatment of opioid addiction increases retention in treatment programs and decreases drug use, infectious disease transmission, and criminal activity.
When people addicted to opioids first quit, they undergo withdrawal symptoms (pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting), which may be severe. Medications can be helpful in this detoxification stage to ease craving and other physical symptoms, which often prompt a person to relapse. While not a treatment for addiction itself, detoxification is a useful first step when it is followed by some form of evidence-based treatment.
Medications developed to treat opioid addiction work through the same opioid receptors as the addictive drug, but are safer and less likely to produce the harmful behaviors that characterize addiction. Three types of medications include (1) agonists, which activate opioid receptors; (2) partial agonists, which also activate opioid receptors but produce a smaller response; and (3) antagonists, which block the receptor and interfere with the rewarding effects of opioids. A particular medication is used based on a patient’s specific medical needs and other factors. Effective medications include:
The many effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction can be delivered in outpatient and residential settings. Approaches such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to effectively treat heroin addiction, especially when applied in concert with medications. Contingency management uses a voucher-based system in which patients earn “points” based on negative drug tests, which they can exchange for items that encourage healthy living. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is designed to help modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors related to drug use and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. An important task is to match the best treatment approach to meet the particular needs of the patient.
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Although health care providers can use it for valid medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, cocaine is an illegal drug. As a street drug, cocaine looks like a fine, white, crystal powder. Street dealers often mix it with things like cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to increase profits. They may also mix it with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine.
People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or they rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder in water and inject it into the bloodstream. Some people inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball.
Another popular method of use is to smoke cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal (also called “freebase cocaine”). The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are inhaled into the lungs. This form of cocaine is called Crack, which refers to the crackling sound of the rock as it’s heated.
People who use cocaine often take it in binges—taking the drug repeatedly within a short time, at increasingly higher doses—to maintain their high.
Short-term health effects of cocaine include:
Some long-term health effects of cocaine depend on the method of use and include the following:
Yes, a person can overdose on cocaine. An overdose occurs when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that results in serious, harmful symptoms or death. An overdose can be intentional or unintentional.
Death from overdose can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. Many people who use cocaine also drink alcohol at the same time, which is particularly risky and can lead to overdose. Others mix cocaine with heroin, another dangerous—and deadly—combination.
Some of the most frequent and severe health consequences leading to overdose involve the heart and blood vessels, including irregular heart rhythm and heart attacks, and the nerves, including seizures and strokes.
How can a cocaine overdose be treated?
Because cocaine overdose often leads to a heart attack, stroke, or seizure, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions, with the intent of:
As with other drugs, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction. The reward circuit eventually adapts to the excess dopamine brought on by the drug. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses to achieve the same high and feel relief from initial withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Behavioral therapy may be used to treat cocaine addiction. Examples include:
While no government-approved medicines are currently available to treat cocaine addiction, researchers are testing some treatments, including:
People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax. Alcohol often has a strong effect on people—and throughout history, people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. Why does alcohol cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? Why do some people become addicted while others do not? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is researching the answers to these and many other questions about alcohol. Here’s what is known:
Alcohol’s effects vary from person to person, depending on a variety of factors, including:
While drinking alcohol is itself not necessarily a problem—drinking too much can cause a range of consequences, and increase your risk for a variety of problems.
Alcohol abuse is which is traditionally known as alcoholism. Regardless, if you know and care about someone who is either definitely an alcoholic or someone who you suspect may be, there are ways to help, start and intervention, and is the process of assisting the process… you might want to seek help for yourself dealing with a loved one with this addiction. Alcohol, as with most substances, abuse is the step directly preceding addiction. However, there are some ways to tell abuse and addiction apart.
Our alcohol detox program offers a safe and comfortable environment for individuals suffering from alcohol dependency to recover in a tranquil, safe setting. Alcohol detoxification is the essential first step, a supervised period with zero alcohol intake for effective treatment and management of alcohol addiction. Our certified clinical staff members are on duty 24/7 to support clients through the recovery process. In addition to care for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, our clients are also given the opportunity to support one another and receive education and counseling about their addiction problem and its effective treatment. The Palms Recovery Center provides individualized care and custom long term plan to provide and encourage the adjustment to sustained sobriety.