There was a day when prescription drug abuse was a disease affecting individuals already suffering with a drug addiction involving street drugs. It was never something we spoke about in terms of our teenagers, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts or uncles. Today, prescription drug abuse is widespread and in some communities, it is considered an epidemic. It can affect all types of people and if there is no effective intervention can lead to devastating consequences.
What causes one to develop an addiction to prescription drugs? There isn’t just one single factor that can be a predictor of prescription drug abuse. In many cases, it begins as a needful thing to treat such things as a broken bone, pain from surgery or injury, anxiety, and even insomnia. At first the medications work well and much needed relief is achieved. Over time, if the pain and discomfort persists, we develop a resistance to the medication and more is needed in order to continue to receive relief. During this time, these powerful drugs can create changes in our brain by depressing the central nervous system which makes you drowsy and calm or, in the cases of stimulant addiction, can make you alert and overly energetic.
Prescription drugs have become more readily available and easy, especially for teens and young adults, to get. Instead of buying drugs from the street, they can be taken right from the family medicine cabinet.
Here are some smart tips for ensuring you don’t fall into an addictive situation.
- Take your prescriptions as outlined by your health care provider.
- Ask your doctor if there are alternatives to medications linked to addiction and abuse. Sometimes, a different kind of medication or even a lower dose will suffice. Remember that opioids are best used in acute episodes, not always long term or chronic pain.
- Do not change or alter dosage amount or times you take it.
- Make sure you understand the long and short term effects of the drug.
- Do not share your medication, even with family members
- Follow up closely with your doctor on your progress.
- Keep your prescriptions locked in a safe place, away from children and teens.
- Always check with your pharmacist before mixing prescription or over the counter medications.
- Consider integrative methods for dealing with pain, anxiety and insomnia.
- When you are through with a medication, as per your doctor’s orders, take any unfinished pills to a pharmacy so they can be disposed of correctly.
Above all else, be honest and upfront with your healthcare provider if you have an addictive personality or have struggled with addictions in the past. Communicating well and educating yourself and your loved ones will make a big difference and keep you in control of your good health.