Prescription Drug Addiction: One Out of Every Six Americans Takes The Risk

Prescription Drug Addiction: One Out of Every Six Americans Takes The Risk

If you gather together any six Americans over the age of 12, chances are statistically strong that at least one of them has used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. Nearly 50 million people - that's one sixth of the US population - have sometime in their life abused one or more prescription drugs, risking the possibility of prescription drug addiction, permanent brain damage, or even death. The obvious point is this: no one becomes a victim of prescription drug addiction and ruins their lives for months or years without first taking prescription drugs. And although people taking legitimate prescriptions for real medical problems can sometimes become addicted, the vast majority of prescription drug addiction victims take prescription drugs to get high, and eventually they get hooked. Prescription drug addiction can develop from almost any prescription drugs that are used for "recreation". It is true that some drugs are more addictive than others, but the door to prescription drug addiction is frequently opened by young people experimenting with so-called "less addictive" drugs. This kind of activity, which can seems "safe and fun", is what leads thousands of people every day to stronger, more addictive drugs. And there are dozens of really addictive prescription drugs - pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, sedatives - drugs that rapidly accelerate a cycle of abuse to dangerous dependence and ultimately to the kind of prescription drug addiction that ruins careers, destroys families, and kills thousands of people a year. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are:
  • Opioids, often called narcotics, which are most often prescribed to treat pain;
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; and
  • Stimulants, which are prescribed to keep people awake or to treat what psychiatrists call "attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder" or ADHD.
Opioids - narcotics painkillers - are the drugs most commonly associated with prescription drug addiction. Examples include morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, oxycodone (e.g., the killer OxyContin, as well as Percodan, Percocet and others), hydrocodone (Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin and more), and the really big killer, methadone. Oxycodone is basically heroin in a pill, and is notoriously dangerous. But methadone, which is used to "treat" heroin addiction, now kills 10 or 20 times more people a year than heroin ever did. Narcotics kill people, and none of them planned it that way. CNS depressants, called sedatives and tranquilizers, slow normal brain function, and are also associated with prescription drug addiction. They include barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral) and pentobarbital (Nembutal), and the truly nasty and dangerous benzodiazepine family of drugs, which include diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide HCl (Librium), alprazolam (Xanax) and many others. Thousands of Americans become addicted to or dependent on benzos, and hundreds die every year from complications of drug or alcohol interactions. Benzodiazepines are not drugs to play around with - ever. Stimulants increase alertness, attention and energy, elevate blood pressure and increase heart rate and respiration. But as their potential for abuse and addiction became obvious, their wide medical use was curtailed. Now they're prescribed for only a few conditions, including narcolepsy, ADHD and some forms of depression. People can become rapidly dependent on or even suffer from stimulant prescription drug addiction - crack cocaine, for example, is a stimulant and, as you probably have heard, powerfully addictive. Withdrawal symptoms are associated with all these drugs, all of them very unpleasant, and some of them downright dangerous. Prescription drug addiction can be overcome, and although it can be difficult, getting through withdrawal safely and with the least discomfort is always accomplished through a modern, personally managed medical drug detox program.

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