The abuse of prescription medications has become a problem in the U.S. with more than 2.4 million Americans using them non-medically on a regular basis. Although prescription drugs are provided by doctors and pharmacies to treat specific ailments, they are not always safe and in many cases can become highly addictive.
Many people who become addicted to prescription pills obtain them from family and friends but there are others who are able to access the medication through their own doctors who may be unaware that the drugs are being abused. The ease with which many Americans can get a hold of these drugs is a major factor contributing to the epidemic of prescription abuse. One of the most important factors, though, is the addictive nature of many of the drugs on the market today.
Prescription drugs fall into a few different categories but one of the most problematic in terms of addiction is that of opoids. Drugs like Oxycontin or Oxycodone as it is also called works as a strong painkiller that can change the way the brain and central nervous system responds to pain.
What makes opoids so addictive is their ability to create a euphoric and sedative effect along with alleviating pain. Other opoids that are considered some of the most addictive prescription drugs today are Demerol, Darvocet and Codeine. Demerol is a commonly abused painkiller that can be dangerous because of the user's tendency to develop a tolerance to the drug's effects.
As users increase their dose of this drug they can start to experience painful and sometimes violent withdrawal symptoms. Codeine is another opiate that is often prescribed as a painkiller with a sedative effect although it can also be found in cough syrup.
Central Nervous System Depressants
In addition to opoid painkillers, some of the most addictive types of drugs are those in the category of central nervous system depressants. One of the most addictive and commonly abused depressants is Xanax which is normally prescribed to ease the symptoms of panic disorder and severe anxiety.
The drug depresses the nervous system which creates a calming effect that many people become addicted to. The fast acting sedating and relaxing effects have made Xanax the most abused prescription drug in the U.S. Drugs like Valium and Klonopin are also depressants with a sedative effect.
These kinds of depressants can create a similar high to alcohol with feelings of drunkenness, talkativeness and relaxation. These kinds of effects make the drugs extremely habit forming and can cause blackouts or death in the case of overdosing.
While a sedative or relaxing effect can be addictive for many people, others are looking for the energizing high of stimulants. Drugs like amphetamines and ritalin are all highly addictive stimulants that are often abused and used for non-medical reasons.
Amphetamines like Adderall are sometimes prescribed for conditions like ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. They provide focus and wakefulness but are often sought after because of their energizing effect. These types of drugs are most often abused by students studying or meeting deadlines, truck drivers and night shift workers who need to stay awake.
Ritalin is another stimulant that is prescribed for young people with ADHD but can be very habit forming because it increases levels of dopamine to heighten attention. Ritalin and Adderall are also widely abused because of their widespread availability and doctors' tendency to overprescribe the drugs.
With a wide array of prescription drugs on the market that are easy to obtain, any of them can be potentially addictive. However, opoids like Oxycontin, depressants such as Xanax and stimulants like Ritalin are some of the most addictive prescription medications available.
Addiction to prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal substance abuse with many people suffering from overdose of these drugs. Professional treatment is necessary to recover from addiction to any of these particular drugs. This in addition to an increase in societal awareness of the problems of prescription drug abuse in America can help bring a change to the landscape of druge abuse.