How Prescription Drug Addiction Unexpectedly Threatens Lives

How Prescription Drug Addiction Unexpectedly Threatens Lives

Surveys by state medical examiners and federal drug abuse agencies continue to find that the majority of drug overdose deaths involve a combination of drugs, or drugs combined with alcohol. And the dangers of multi-drug cocktails are often worse among people suffering from prescription drug addiction.

Although some drug abuse statistics are down across the country, prescription drug addiction and abuse among teens and young adults, and senior citizens, is on the rise. Pain killers such as methadone, OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and other prescription narcotics are among the most abused and most addictive.

Narcotics are Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants that slow heart rate and breathing, and an overdose can actually reduce the heart rate and breathing to the point of coma, and death. But some abusers don't realize that combining these kinds of drugs has an additive effect, rapidly creating an overdose situation.

And many people, especially younger people with less experience, don't realize that alcohol is also a CNS depressant. Combining alcohol with any CNS depressant can mean an ambulance race to the nearest emergency ward, but far too often results in a tragic death.

Sometimes people survive a CNS depressant overdose, but are left with physical or mental disabilities. When the brain and other organs are deprived of oxygen for too long, which happens when breathing and heart rate are slowed or stopped, irreversible damage can occur even when the life is saved.

Mood altering tranquilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, study drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, and other psychiatric drugs, are increasingly being abused by high school and college students. And these drugs also lead to dependence, and to prescription drug addiction.

Illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and ecstasy, commonly treated as single addictions at drug rehab centers, are also being dangerously combined with other drugs and alcohol more often than ever before by kids without a clue how close they're putting themselves to a cold slab in the morgue.

With any addiction there is the danger of polydrug abuse - mixing two or more drugs to achieve a high. When an addict can't get the main drug of addiction, which happens frequently to addicts, they always - always - look for something else. The problem is that drug combinations can react unexpectedly and unpredictably to damage the body.

And some narcotics, especially methadone , remain in the system long after the "high" has worn off, sending the abuser searching for another dose of anything they can get. And the next drug they take, combined with the residual in the body, puts them to sleep - permanently.

But even for the many thousands who simply flirt with prescription drugs on the weekends to "party" and "have fun", the temptation to play the deadly drug combination game is ever present. And for many who are particularly sensitive or foolish, prescription drug addiction won't be their problem, it will be a funeral - their own.

The younger generation has been raised to think that prescription drugs are safer because they're from the doctor. And almost everyone takes a prescription for something. What they don't know, and aren't being told loud and long enough, is how deadly these drugs can be, and how easily they can lead to prescription drug addiction.

To survive the risks of alcohol and drug cocktails, education, parental and law enforcement, and personal ethics and will power, are all needed. But to overcome the nightmare that is prescription drug addiction, it's a little too late for preventive measures. Addicts need a thorough drug rehab program to fully overcome all aspects of their addiction. And the entryway to rehab is a medical drug detox program that carefully, and safely, brings them through the withdrawal process ready to get their lives back on track.


Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.

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