Saturday, October 27, 2018

How Prescription Drug Abuse Affects the Body

Abuse of drugs, prescription or otherwise, is a growing problem in today’s world. In fact, about 20% of the US population has abused prescription drugs at one point. This is a serious issue.

But how exactly does prescription drug abuse affect the body? Here are the primary ways that the human body is negatively impacted by prescription drug use.

Effects of Prescription Drugs

The three types of prescription drugs that are most often abused are opioids, depressants, and stimulants.

Opioids have gained recent exposure as the “opioid epidemic” has risen in America. They are primarily used to treat pain, which they do by blocking pain receptors. This can temporarily cause a feeling of euphoria, which is why it’s frequently abused. While opioids can be safe for use over a short period of time, long term abuse is extremely damaging to the body, and addiction to the euphoric state it creates is common.

Depressants are another severely addictive prescription drug. Depressants are used to suppress functions of the central nervous system (CNS) and are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. The most common depressants are benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan. Depressants work by affecting the brain neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and by lowering brain activity, which has a calming and sleep-inducing effect. Again, while depressants are prescribed for short term, specific usage, but abuse can result in permanent damage to the brain. 

The final type of prescription drug that is frequently abused are stimulants, like amphetamines. The most commonly used stimulants are Adderall and Ritalin, which are medically used to treat attention-deficit- disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants raise the heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure, constrict blood vessels, and open the pathways of the respiratory system, which is fine in moderation, but with frequent use can be extremely damaging to the body. These stimulant drugs are usually abused for their increased energy and focus effects, which makes them popular among high school and college students, as well as those with demanding jobs and long hours. 

Danger of Prescription Drugs

When they are taken for the prescribed reasons and within the right dosage, these drugs are safe, but overuse and abuse can create number of health problems and cause significant damage to the body.

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise because these drugs are so much easier to obtain than illicit ones. Prescription drugs can be obtained at your local pharmacy, via online pharmacies, and are easily stolen and then abused. Not everyone who begins using prescription drugs will fall victim to addiction, but it’s incredibly hard to predict, which is another reason prescription drugs are so dangerous. There are many external factors, such as environment, body composition, genetics, emotional state, and age that play a role in whether or not someone may become addiction to prescription drugs, but it truly is unpredictable.

If you worry that someone you care about may be struggling with prescription drug abuse, there are a number of drug rehabilitation centers that you can suggest and recommend. The important thing is not to accuse, but to have your suggestion come from a true place of love and support. The decision to enter a rehab facility is ultimately a solo one, but by offering your unconditional support, hopefully you can help your loved one make the right choice for them and their future.

This is a guest blog entry.

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