Most people use prescriptive drugs, but taking them in a way that a physician or doctor hasn’t prescribed can be more harmful than people think. Arguably, this practice is illegal and can be considered drug abuse, just like using street drugs. Whether you smoke, snort, or inject, using medications for the wrong reasons can cause devastating effects to your health and general life.
Smoking, Snorting, or Injecting: the Differences
Smoking is the fastest way to have a substance get into the brain. Prescription medications that can be smoked include heroin, opium, cocaine, PCP, meth, and more. Regular smoking of substances can lead to infections, heart diseases, and lung issues.
Snorting drugs involves grounding up a drug into powder, dividing it into lines, and using a rolled paper or straw to inhale the drug into your nasal passages. Snorting has various dangers that include damaging the nasal membrane and causing problems to the respiratory system.
Injection of drugs is a technique of introducing a drug into the body using a needle and syringe. Sharing of such equipment exposes users to a high risk of getting HIV and other infections.
Why Do People Misuse Prescription Drugs?
People abuse prescription medication for various reasons. Some do it to get high or feel good, relieve tension, increase alertness, reduce appetite, or maintain an addiction. Others engage in this practice because they think it can help them fit in, lose weight, have more fun, prevent withdrawal, or improve academic performance.
Prescription drugs are more accessible than illegal drugs – friends or family members may have them. However, they can also be sold on the streets. But you should keep in mind that these drugs are only safe if prescribed by a doctor. This is true because a physician has assessed the drugs and recommended the correct dose of the medicine suitable for the patient’s condition.
Besides providing dosage instructions, a doctor also knows of the possible side effects to watch for. Arguably, prescription medication abuse is a national crisis that impacts public health, economic, and social welfare. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 50,000 people in the U.S succumbed to opioid-related overdoses.
Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximates that the national economic expense of prescription opioid abuse alone in the U.S accounts for a whopping $78.5 billion every year, plus healthcare costs, addiction treatment, and lost productivity.
Prescription Drug Classifications
Prescription drugs are classified in various ways, based on different factors. Most are categorized according to their chemical compositions and the condition they can address. Grouping drugs is crucial because it helps understand specific medication types to formulate proper treatment plans.
There are seven different types of drug classifications in the world of prescription medication misuse, each with its unique dangers, characteristics, and side effects. They include:
- Inhalants and Depressants
These drugs are further categorized into five distinctive groups. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) refers to these drug categories as schedules that depend on a drug’s authorized use, acceptance, and dependency potential. The first schedule consists of drugs with no medical use and a high abuse rate to create significant physical and psychological dependency.
Schedule 1 drugs may include LSD, heroin, and ecstasy, while Schedule 2 drugs have a high physical and psychological dependence with a relatively high abuse rate. These drugs include meth, opioids, and cocaine. The third schedule has a low to moderate potential abuse rate and includes drugs like steroids, testosterone, ketamine, and anabolic.
The fourth schedule consists of drugs like Valium, Ambien, and Ativan, all of which have a low potential for dependence. The fifth schedule consists of drugs often used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, or analgesic purposes.
The Chemical Drug Classifications Include:
Opioids – Opioids are obtained from the opium drug or other synthetic versions that imitate the drug’s chemical structure. This drug is a powerful stimulant that interacts with the neurotransmitters in the brain and affects signals. Opioids cause intense feelings of pleasure and can relieve pain. Shockingly, this class of drugs is rapidly becoming a severe addiction crisis in the United States.
Cocaine and other stimulants – Stimulants, in general, accelerate the activity of the central nervous system (CNS), causing you to feel alert, focused, and energized for a prolonged period. The reverse reaction is that you may also feel paranoid, edgy, and angry.
Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens interact with the central nervous system (CNS) and affect the perception of space, reality, and time. This class of drugs can make you imagine situations or hear things that don’t exist.
Alcohol – Alcohol is one of the most common and most misused globally. It is legal in many countries, including the United States. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and can cause severe damage to the liver if abused for a long time. It causes a feeling of pleasure to users and can lower inhibition.
Inhalants – Most inhalants are consumed via breathing. They often exist in vapor form and are found in industrial chemicals and household items whose volatile vapors can be concentrated and breathed through the mouth or nose to produce intoxication.
Children and adolescents commonly use inhalants, and even though they are less addictive, inhalants can be dangerous in some situations. Common inhalants include volatile solvents, which are liquids found in a couple of readily available products used for common industrial and household purposes. These can vaporize at room temperature.
Such solvents include glues, gasoline, paint thinners, removers, degreasers, correction glues, and gasoline. Similarly, inhalants can be in the form of aerosols that contain solvents and propellants. Aerosols may include spray paints, vegetable oil sprays, deodorants, hair sprays, and fabric protector sprays.
Cannabis – Cannabis is another popular and most consumed drug across the world. It interacts with the cannabinoid receptors affecting the function of the brain. Cannabis often comes in various forms and causes different reactions to users.
Experts state that cannabis contains over 120 elements (cannabinoids), but it’s not yet clear what each component does. The well-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive property in cannabis responsible for “high feelings” associated with cannabis.
CBD is another psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that is neither euphoric nor intoxicating. It is mainly used to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and ease migraine, anxiety, and nausea.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse
The most commonly misused prescription medications have mind-altering elements, and they include:
Opioids are popular pain killers when used correctly under a doctor’s prescription. They include drugs containing oxycodone like Percocet and OxyContin and those containing hydrocodone like Norco. Other common opioids include codeine, Demerol, fentanyl, morphine, and methadone.
Signs and symptoms of opioids:
- Feeling high
- Poor coordination
- Slowed breathing rate
- Poor coordination
- Increased sensitivity to pain with high doses
- Need for increased dose for pain relief
Stimulants are a group of drugs that are also commonly misused. Their usage results in increased body activity, speeding up physical and mental processes to cause short-term effects by increasing the brain’s dopamine levels.
These drugs include cocaine, heroin, crack, and methylphenidates, such as Concerta and Ritalin. Drugs that fall under stimulants also include dextroamphetamine like Dexedrine and amphetamines like Mydayis and Adderall XR.
Signs and symptoms:
- Reduced appetite
- Feeling high
- High body temperature
- Increased alertness
- Irregular heartbeat
Anti-Anxiety Drugs and Sedatives
This class of medications may include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and hypnotics like zolpidem, commonly used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety.
Signs and symptoms:
- Slowed breathing
- Unsteady walking
- Poor concentration
- Memory issues
- Slurred speech
Other general signs include:
- Using higher dozes than prescribed
- Hostility or excessive mood swings
- Forging, stealing, or selling prescription drugs
- Seeking prescriptions from different doctors
- Unusually energetic and appearing to be high
- Poor decision making
- Unusual sleep patterns
What Are the Dangers of Abusing Drugs?
Prescription drug abuse affects the brain and body. Different medications affect each user differently, and some drug effects cause long-term to permanent health consequences. Individuals who abuse drugs, whether medicines or street drugs are highly likely to commit a crime, cause an accident, or be victims of a crime.
When to See a Doctor or Seek Professional Help
If you think you have an issue with a particular prescription drug use, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor. Although some people may find it embarrassing to discuss such topics, you should remember that doctors are trained professionals looking to help you and not condemn you. It is also easier to handle the issue earlier before it escalates into something more serious.
Subsequently, if you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. The good news is there are professional treatment facilities like Granite Recovery Center that can tailor a recovery plan suitable for your needs.
About Granite Recovery Center
Granite Center is a drug rehab institution focused on changing the lives of alcohol and drug-dependent individuals from New England and its environs. For over a decade now, we have offered a wide range of science-based clinical treatments with comprehensive psychotherapy programs.
We take pride in our addiction treatment plans featuring medical detox, sober living, primary residential treatment, extended care, intensive outpatient counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and more. At our additional recovery centers, we offer a wide range of treatment programs to help you restore your health and state of mind. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Our programs include:
Mental Health Program
We understand that most individuals who struggle with alcoholism or addictions may also have co-occurring mental issues. With our NFA Behavioral Health centers, you can rest assured that we will restore your mental, emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being. Our mental health plans focus on Acute Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Somatic Symptom Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and more.
Residential Addiction Treatment Centers
We also offer residential treatment programs suitable for adults dealing with drug or alcohol abuse. We provide alcohol detox programs, treatments, and alternative programs to ensure you get back on your feet as soon as possible. Residential treatment programs are beneficial for individuals fresh from a detox center.
We treat many substance use disorders, including alcohol, cocaine, benzo, heroin, and opiate. Additionally, we offer several therapeutic programs such as yoga therapy, gestalt therapy, as well as individual and group therapy.
This is one of our best programs that allow Granite Recovery graduates to connect with their colleagues and build healthy friendships. This entire network helps encourage our alumni to participate and keep communities engaged in their recovery journey.
Our Alumni program offers peer-to-peer support and engagement on recovery-related issues and recreational activities (meditation, yoga, cookouts, and outings). You can also get access to our exclusive Facebook group, educational programs, and events, as well as participate in our Annual Alumni Reunion.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
As professionals, we understand that everyone’s needs are different, so we provide treatment to allow you to stop using drugs and continue with your sober life. Those people who don’t need continuous support or supervision can still benefit from our intensive outpatient treatment program.
We provide various treatment and education programs, including assertiveness training, psychoeducational groups, and psychotherapy programs. We also offer skill development group programs, stress-coping techniques, and management skills.
Tips for Taking Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs are pharmaceutical medicines that legally require a doctor’s prescription to be dispensed. They can help relieve pain and treat other medical conditions only if they are medically prescribed. However, they can become dangerous or abusive to your body if used for the wrong intentions.
That is why it is important to always talk to your doctor before taking prescription medicine. Whether it is a pain reliever medicine or a CNS depressant, ensure you follow the directions carefully. Additionally, don’t forget to attend all your doctor’s appointments. This will help the doctor monitor your progress. Your doctor can identify any side effects in order to adjust the dose or replace the medication accordingly.
Remember to note any information provided by your pharmacist as it can help you later while you take your medicine. Monitor the effects that drugs may cause to your body, especially in the first few days, and report them to your doctor. Lastly, never decrease or increase the dose of your drugs without consulting with your doctor first.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder, contact our team at Granite Recovery Center today.