There are times when prescription medication is required for the treatment of moderate to severe pain or to help relieve conditions such as sleep disorders, hyperactivity and depression. However, while the use of prescription medication is considered safe for a short period, long-term use can become a problem. Abuse of prescription medication is another problem, but many people just do not comprehend what that even means. There are so many reasons prescription drug abuse is a massive problem here in the UK, not least of which is the fact that it can cause devastating addictions that can destroy lives.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
The issue of prescription drug abuse is a complex one, considering that most people do not even know what is classed as abuse. The fact that many individuals mistakenly believe that all prescription medication must be completely safe is one of the main reasons these medications are abused.
As prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors and other medical professionals, most people assume that there are no issues with them. Nevertheless, these drugs are highly addictive and when abused, can lead to a destructive addiction as well as harm to mental and physical health.
So, what is classed as prescription drug abuse? Below are a few examples:
- Taking increased doses of medication without recommendation from your doctor
- Taking your medication at increasingly frequent intervals, meaning more is consumed in a day than advised
- Taking prescription medication that was prescribed for another person.
Why are Prescription Drugs Abused?
Prescription medication nowadays is commonly abused and there are many reasons this happens. These mood-altering drugs affect the brain by encouraging it to release the feel-good hormone dopamine. It is easy to build up a tolerance to this medication, which means that the effects are lessened. As the body gets used to the presence of the medication, the brain will release fewer feel-good chemicals in response.
The result of this is that the individual often feels as though the medication is no longer working as it should. Many people are then tempted to increase their dosage when this occurs, while others begin taking it more frequently when they feel the effects wear off.
Taking medication prescribed for another person is another frequent problem. Most people do not realise the dangers in doing this. They assume that if a certain medication worked for a problem this person had, then it will be okay for them to take it for a similar medical condition.
In the case of prescription painkillers, this is a massive problem. It is extremely common for individuals who have been prescribed prescription pain medication to give it to a family member or friend who is struggling with any kind of pain.
Most people forget that medical professionals are required to train for years before they are qualified to prescribe medication. They must take numerous factors regarding the patient’s health and underlying conditions into consideration before prescribing any sort of medication. They must also consider if there is any other medication that the patient is taking that could interact with any new medication.
This means that while a certain prescription drug might be appropriate for one person, it could be completely unsuitable, or even dangerous, for another person to take.
Why Prescription Drug Abuse is Dangerous
While the above is some of the ways in which individuals unwittingly abuse prescription medication, the fact is that there are some people who abuse these drugs knowingly for recreational purposes. This is becoming a massive issue across the world, with many individuals developing serious health problems and addictions that are then leading them to street drugs.
Teenagers and young adults are also often of the opinion that prescription drugs are the ideal way to get high as they are ‘safe’. After all, a GP prescribed them, so they must be okay?
Prescription medication is administered by fully qualified medical professionals for very good reason. While there are benefits to some people, there are also many risks and doctors only prescribe these drugs when the benefits outweigh the associated risks.
There are serious risks to health for those who take these drugs, especially when taken without recommendation from a GP. Some prescription drugs can be as dangerous as street drugs, or even more so, particularly when taken in high doses. It is possible to overdose on prescription medication, which can result in severe health complications and even death.
One of the biggest issues with prescription drug abuse is the fact that it can quickly lead to addiction. These drugs are highly addictive, and a tolerance tends to develop very quickly. If the supply of medication is cut off for any reason, the individual in question may be tempted to source their drugs elsewhere, such as over the internet, which in itself is dangerous.
Many of those selling supposed prescription drugs online are selling fake pills. The fact that it is often not possible to tell the difference between the real thing and a fake just by looking at it means that many buyers are putting their life at risk.
Others will turn to street drugs such as heroin or cocaine to try to recreate the feelings they desire. This can then lead to devastating consequences for the individual.
The Consequences of a Prescription Drug Addiction
Like all substance addictions, a prescription drug addiction can have disastrous consequences for the user and his or her family members. Below are some of the reasons prescription drug abuse is so dangerous:
- Health Problems – Abuse of prescription medication can lead to many health issues, such as decreased cognitive function, slow breathing, mood swings, infertility, disrupted menstrual cycle and rapid heartbeat. Long-term abuse can cause further problems including heart disease and seizures. Overdose of such medication can result in coma and death.
- Accidents – Taking prescription medication can impair your functioning and thinking, which could lead you to take unnecessary risks. This in turn can lead to accidents. Poor judgement can put you in danger and could result in you becoming the victim of violent crimes.
- Relationship Problems – If you develop an addiction to prescription medication, you are likely to become preoccupied with taking your medication. If this is the case, your relationships are bound to suffer. Your family members and friends may not realise what is happening, and they will not understand why your behaviour has changed. Your unpredictable mood swings could take its toll and lead to the breakdown of relationships with the people you love.
- Finances – As with all substance addictions, a prescription drug addiction can result in financial problems. The cost of funding any addiction can become quite high as the illness progresses. Furthermore, if the addiction gets to the point where the side effects are preventing you from performing at work, your income could be drastically cut. This can result in financial implications for yourself and your loved ones.
Overcoming a Prescription Drug Addiction
The reasons why prescription drug abuse must be recognised are plentiful. It is easy to see the damage that can be caused to individuals and their family members when such an illness spirals out of control. Treatment is available for prescription drug addiction, but one of the largest obstacles is the fact that many people with such a problem fail to recognise it in themselves.
Accepting a diagnosis of addiction is never easy but it can be particularly tough for those who have never abused an illegal drug in their life. To then be classed as a drug addict is something that they will not want to accept.
Nonetheless, it is important to realise that drugs are not all illegal and that addiction can occur with abuse of prescription medication. It is also vital that you do come to terms with this issue if you are to get help. The only way to move forward is to tackle the problem head on, and this may mean undergoing a drug detox and programme of rehabilitation.
The good news is that you are not alone; there are countless individuals across the UK who have found themselves in a similar situation to yours. Here at Middlegate, we have already helped many people with prescription drug addictions to find a programme where they are working to overcome their illness for good.
If you are ready to put your prescription drug addiction behind you for good and are willing to commit to a programme of rehabilitation, we want to hear from you. We work with various organisations across the United Kingdom that provide detox and rehab programmes for all types of addiction.
We will work with you to find out exactly what you are dealing with before recommending a few treatment providers in your area. A big part of our service is providing free assessments to clients to help them understand more about what their needs are. We also offer free and confidential advice, information, and referrals.
Call us today to find out more about what we do and how we can help you overcome your addiction once and for all.