What are Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Not all cases of drug abuse involve illegal street drugs; some of the most addictive drugs available may be found in your own medicine cabinet. Prescription drug abuse is a growing crisis in the United States, and one study reveals that up to 20 percent of Americans have abused a prescription medication at some point in their lives.
Opioid Drug Abuse
Opioids are a category of drugs used to relieve pain. Some common opioid medications include Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet. It’s common to experience feelings of euphoria when taking an opioid medication, which often leads people to use the drug for non-medical purposes.
It may not be obvious that a loved one is abusing a prescription painkiller, but a few telltale signs can help you identify a potential problem. Some typical symptoms of opioid drug abuse include:
- Small pupils
- Slurred speech
- Confusion and impaired judgment
- Compulsive behavior to get the drug
The withdrawal from opioid drugs is an uncomfortable process, but addiction can be successfully treated with a combination of behavioral therapies and medication. Methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone are frequently used to curb cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic attacks and stress. These drugs, which include Valium, Ativan and Xanax, work by depressing the central nervous system. With long-term use, benzodiazepines have a high potential for drug abuse and addiction. Some common signs of benzodiazepine abuse include:
- Impaired coordination
- Blurred vision
- Lack of inhibition
For a person with an addiction to benzodiazepines, the psychological dependence on the drug can be strong, and the withdrawal process is intense. A “cold turkey” approach is not recommended in these cases, and many individuals require an inpatient detox and rehabilitation program to overcome their dependence on the drug.
Stimulant drugs that are normally prescribed to manage the symptoms of ADHD are sometimes used for non-medical purposes. These medications, which include Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse, are abused by people who take them to enhance their focus and improve their study performance. People who engage in stimulant drug abuse may experience some of these common symptoms:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Rapid heartbeat
- Reduced appetite
Continued stimulant abuse can lead to an addiction that requires either inpatient or outpatient treatment. A treatment program for this type of prescription drug abuse will include a combination of individual and group therapy, as well as treatment for any underlying psychological issues.
Prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem with serious consequences; however, effective treatment is available. If someone you love is struggling with prescription drug addiction, they can break the vicious cycle of drug abuse and turn their life around.