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Prescription Drug Addiction in Illinois
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Prescription Drug Addiction in Illinois

The nonmedical use of prescription medications is a rising health problem in the United States. While many people may use prescription drugs responsibly, it is estimated that around half of those who have taken the medications have used them for nonmedical purposes at least once in their lives. Prescription drug addiction is characterized by using the medication in a way that was not originally intended by a medical professional. This can include anything from taking too much of a drug prescribed to you, taking a friends painkiller for a headache or muscle ache, or purchasing the drugs illegally from a dealer. Prescription drug addiction in Illinois is an increasing problem that affects all age groups and is not limited to one such drug. Three of the most commonly abused prescription medications include opioids, sedatives, and stimulants. It is important to identify a potential addiction early on, before it evolves into a deadly habit.

 

 

Common Prescription Drugs Addiction

 

Opiates and Opioids

 

Opioid drugs such as morphine, codeine, Fentanyl, hydrocodone and OxyContin are prescription drugs that are similar in origin to heroin. Some of the brand names of these drugs may include Demerol, Darvocet, Lortab, Vicodin, Roxicodone, Opana, and countless others. Doctors usually prescribe these pills to reduce pain. When they are taken as prescribed, they can effectively reduce pain, however, there is a high risk for dependency when using these medications. Taking these drugs can cause a feeling of euphoria short-term. Users regularly seek to recapture those euphoric feelings, leading to taking increased doses as tolerance levels increase, which can result in accidental overdose. Effects of opioids include anesthesia, sedation, slowed breathing rate, and developing a dependency. Overdose occurs when the breathing slows to a point where it becomes fatal.

 

 

Tranquilizers and Sedatives

 

This is a class of drugs known as benzodiazepine or benzos for short. It may include sleep aids such as Ambien or Lunesta and barbiturates such as Seconal and Nembutal. In addition, sedatives such as Xanax or Valium are used to treat patients with anxiety disorders. As they are central nervous system depressants, they induce a sense of calmness. For people with co-existing mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, abusing sedatives can reduce feelings of panic or fear and lead to addiction. These central nervous system depressants slow brain activity, which is why they are useful for those with sleep disorders or heightened anxiety. Because they slow brain activity, ceasing use of these drugs can cause the body to rebound, which may result in seizures and other serious health issues. People have also been known to combine these prescription drugs with alcohol, which increases the risk and often leads to blackouts and lowered inhibitions. Not only are the effects of sedatives intoxicating, but people are much more likely to be involved in fatal accidents when under the influence of these drugs, as opposed to others.

 

 

Stimulants

 

Stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, Strattera, Ritalin and Dexedrine can boost alertness and are most commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Oftentimes students will abuse these drugs to focus better in class, study long hours, and do homework assignments for hours on end. As the high school and college competition has increased, so has prescription drug use. Many students will take the medications without a prescription because they are so readily available on campuses. Unfortunately, the abuse does not always end with an education and many become accustomed to the mental alertness stimulants provide. They will continue to abuse the substance long-term and this can have devastating effects. Abusing stimulant drugs can lead to addiction, irregular heartbeat, mental cloudiness, seizures, hostility, paranoia, and heart failure.

 

 

What Are the Different Categories of Prescription Drugs?

 

The Controlled Substances Act outlines five different schedules to categorize various drugs. Schedule I drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse and addiction, but have no accepted medical use in treatment, so they are not available on prescription anywhere in the United States. Some common Schedule I drugs include marijuana, mescaline, LSD

 

Schedule II drugs are those classified as having a high potential for abuse and addiction, but they do have currently accepted medical uses, so they are available when prescribed and dispensed by a medical practitioner. Some common Schedule II drugs include OxyContin (oxycodone), morphine, pure codeine, hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Adderall and Dexedrine. The most dangerous forms of prescription medications often fall under the second schedule. Schedules III to V have a moderate to low potential for abuse, but they can still be dangerous if not taken as directed.

 

 

Withdrawal from Prescription Drugs

 

Prescription drug addiction can be more difficult to recover from than cocaine or methamphetamine, especially if you’re addicted to opioid medication like hydrocodone or Xanax or Suboxone. The withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe, so it’s important to seek assistance from a drug treatment center.

 

Some withdrawal symptoms from opioid medications are very similar to heroin withdrawals, and can include:

 

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Body aches and pains
  • Severe negative mood swings
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Irritation
  • Insomnia

 

Medical detox may be necessary to alleviate some of the physical withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, patients addicted to OxyContin and other strong opioid medications may be treated using methadone or naltrexone to help them detox effectively.

 

Although each drug may yield different effects, addiction is a common result if the substance is not taken properly. There is not one single type of treatment that is unanimous for prescription drug addiction treatment. Yet, effective drug treatments should include an individualized assessment to determine the addicts unique needs, a medically-supervised detox program, counseling, and a recovery support program that can help to reduce the risk of relapse.

 

Prescription medications have been known as gateway drugs to illicit substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Put an end to the problem before a seemingly harmless habit turns into a deadly addiction.