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How Does Prescription Drug Abuse Start?


It is no wonder that many people think about the question of how does prescription drug abuse start. After all, prescription drug abuse is in the headlines almost constantly. However, countless individuals actually have no idea at all of what prescription drug abuse is. After all, how can a medication that is prescribed to treat a genuine medical condition be harmful?

Unfortunately, most people do not appreciate the dangers associated with prescription medication and are therefore under the illusion that these drugs are completely safe to take at all times. With this mindset, it can be easy to abuse medication without even realising. So how does prescription drug abuse start? Read on to find out.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

When considering the question of how prescription drug abuse starts, it makes sense to find out a what it actually is. For example, did you know that taking medication prescribed for another person is classed as prescription drug abuse? Most people do not.

It is common for those who have been prescribed a strong painkiller to offer their leftover medication to a family member or friend who may be in pain with a similar condition (or sometimes even a completely different ailment). Some believe that if it worked for them then it will work for a loved one too. They fail to see the dangers of doing this.

Another form of prescription drug abuse is taking medication in higher than the recommended doses. It may sound odd that someone would do this, but with prescription medication, tolerance can develop quite quickly. What this means is that the user may find his or her medication becoming less effective with time.

When regularly taking a drug, the brain changes its response to it. It will adjust the production of brain chemicals, meaning that the effects of the medication become diminished. Many individuals assume that it is safe to increase their dose of medication to achieve the level of satisfaction they desire.

However, those who do increase their dose of prescription medication without consulting a doctor are significantly increasing their risk of addiction.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug abuse is different from prescription drug addiction. While abuse of drugs can increase the risk of addiction, not everyone who abuses their medication will develop an addiction.

What often happens when medication is abused is that physical dependency develops. It should be mentioned here that physical dependency can also occur in those taking their medication exactly as prescribed – particularly if taking it for longer periods of time.

Once physical dependency does develop, withdrawal symptoms will occur when trying to stop taking the medication. These symptoms can be quite unpleasant and are often what traps people in a cycle of substance abuse. To avoid these symptoms occurring, more of the medication is used. This cycle of abuse and withdrawal is that which more often than not results in a crippling addiction.

While physical dependency can result in these various withdrawal symptoms that ultimately trap people in a cycle of abuse, addiction is characterised by a compulsive need to use the medication. If you are addicted, you will probably find that your use of the medication is interfering with your ability to live a normal life. You may be putting your use of the medication above everything else, including those you love and any interests you used to have.

Addiction can take over a person and affect his or her ability to meet personal and work commitments. It robs motivation and the desire to do anything other than taking the medication.

If you are in this situation, you may get to the point where you believe that you are unable to function without the medication; you might not be able to see a future where drugs do not play a role.

Do You Need Help for Addiction?

If you have been wondering about how prescription drug abuse starts and are worried that you may have a problem, take a close look at your habits to try to determine how serious your prescription drug abuse is.

It is important to be completely honest when answering the following questions so that you can be sure of the severity of your problem.

  • Do you need more medication now to achieve the level of satisfaction or pain relief that you desire?
  • Are you taking medication that was not prescribed for you?
  • Do you take prescription drugs to change the way you feel?
  • Do you feel anxious when your prescription is running low?
  • Have you visited more than one doctor to get multiple prescriptions?
  • Have you tried to source your medication elsewhere, such as online or on the streets?
  • Are you neglecting your responsibilities at home or at work?
  • Have you lost interest in activities or hobbies that you used to enjoy?
  • Have you stopped spending time with loved ones?
  • Do you lie to family members and friends about your drug use?
  • Have you tried to quit your medication but have been unable to?

If you have answered yes to most of the above questions, you are almost certainly addicted to your medication. It is imperative that you seek help as soon as possible to get better and to regain control of your life once more.

The Consequences of a Prescription Drug Addiction

You might think that abusing prescription medication is nowhere near as harmful as abusing illegal drugs, but the reality is that some medications can be extremely dangerous when abused. And as with an addiction to illegal drugs, addiction to prescription medications can be just as deadly.

Your risk of overdose increases significantly when you develop an addiction to prescription medication. As your need for the drug increases, you might start to take higher doses, or you could begin combining it with other substances to enhance the effects. This dramatically raises the risk of overdose, which could have fatal consequences.

Prescription drug addiction can also lead to a plethora of long-term health problems. Chronic abuse of a mood-altering chemical can result in damage to various internal organs and could also lead to mental health problems.

While the impact on your health can never be underestimated, you should also be aware that prescription drug abuse can lead to problems in other areas of your life too. As your need for the medication starts to take over, it will crowd out everything else in your life.

Your relationships are likely to suffer because those around you will find it hard to understand why you are continuing to take the medication when it is having such a negative effect on your moods and behaviour. They will probably not understand why you do not just stop, and they will be unable to comprehend the pull that the drugs have over you. It is hard to understand the way in which addiction affects a person unless you are affected yourself.

The Importance of Treatment

Without treatment for addiction, your life will spiral out of control. It is hard to get a grip on life when your mind is clouded by a mood-altering substance. You will find it hard to think clearly and you may not see the harm that your drug abuse is causing.

With a programme of detox and rehabilitation though, you can start to rebuild your life. You can look forward to improved mental and physical health and the chance to get things back to some semblance of normality.

If you would like to put substance abuse behind you, please contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. We can provide a full assessment of your situation to determine how severe your illness is and the type of programme that would be appropriate for your needs. Our advisors are ready to take your call and can provide information on the various treatment options available in your area. Please call today to find out more about how we can help you get your life back on the right track.

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