What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is defined as using a drug that is legal with a prescription for other than its intended purpose, or in doses greater than what was originally prescribed, or using the drugs without having a valid prescription.
For example, if your doctor prescribes Vicodin for back pain and you continue take it once the back pain has passed, that qualifies as prescription drug abuse.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall into one of three categories: stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin; central nervous system depressants, such as Valium; and opioids, including Vicodin, Fentanyl and OxyContin.
Prevalence of Subscription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse falls under the category of illicit drug use which, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, has been steadily rising since 2011 with an estimated 22.5 million people over the age of 12 using. The highest instances of illicit drug use occur among teens and young adults, both in the state of Michigan and nationwide, with adults over fifty also showing increasing numbers.
The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
The commonly abused prescription drugs are all volatile substances that require careful dosing and monitoring by a medical professional. Opioids and central nervous system depressants cause drowsiness and can slow down brain function, heart rate and breathing. Stimulants cause anxiety, elevated blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.
Improper use of opioids and central nervous system depressants can lead to loss of consciousness, respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest. Improper use of stimulants can cause seizures, cardiac arrest and stroke. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol and other drugs increases the danger.
Treatment options for prescription drug abuse vary depending on the type of drug and the reason the addict is taking the drug.
For example, people with chronic pain could become dependent on their medication and cross the line from use to abuse. In those instances, the best drug rehabilitation method involves helping the addict manage his pain while weaning him off the addictive substance.
The best drug rehabilitation approach is to put the patient through a medically-supervised detox, to clear the drug from his system, before embarking on a treatment plan. A medically-supervised detox can reduce the severity of the early withdrawal symptoms, by allowing the staff to monitor the patient’s condition and provide adequate treatment. If the patient is also addicted to alcohol, a medically-supervised detox will prevent potentially fatal alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Once the addict has completed detox, which normally takes a few days, he can then start the rehabilitation process. For opioid addicts this could involve the use of opioid blockers such as Naltrexone, and cognitive behavior therapy to treat the psychological causes for the addiction.
For non-opioid addicts treatment could involve the use of cognitive behavior therapy and other psychological techniques to address the psychological and emotional causes for the addiction.
Whether an addict uses an outpatient or residential rehabilitation program depends on a variety of factors and circumstances. An addict ordered to treatment by the courts, such as Michigan’s drug court, could be required to spend a minimum number of days in a residential treatment program.
Addicts who self-refer could end up in an outpatient program depending on finances, personal preferences, and state resources. The best drug rehab programs include group and individual counseling, exercise programs, nutritional training, weekly educational seminars, and ongoing aftercare services.
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