Just like you, hundreds of people keep asking why people get addicted to prescription drugs. This is because the number of prescription drug addiction cases have risen considerably in the past few years. Reports around 2017 showed that around 22 percent of Canadians over the age of 15 have a prescription drug problem.
So, are you wondering just why this is happening? We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll discuss why people get addicted to prescription drugs. Then, we’ll also examine some symptoms of those addiction and their prevention.
What Are Prescription Drugs
Just before we get to the reason for the addiction, you’ll need to understand prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are those drugs that you get on the authority of a medical practitioner.
So, when you go to the hospital and the doctor writes down some drugs that you should get — that’s a prescription drug.
You may be wondering what’s unique about them. The Food Drugs Act regulates them. In turn, you can only purchase these drugs with a doctor’s prescription. So, if you decide to walk into a pharmacy without one, you can’t buy it.
Examples of these addictive prescription drugs include:
- Opioids prescribed to treat pains such as drugs with oxycodone and hydrocodone.
- Sedatives prescribed to assist patients to relieve sleep problems or anxiety such as drugs with alprazolam, diazepam, and zolpidem.
- Stimulants prescribed to help patients who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) such as drugs with methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine.
What is Prescription Drug Addiction?
Usually, when you get a prescription, it also includes how to use the drug. Well, prescription drug abuse occurs where you use the drugs outside the instructions of the doctor. It also extends to cases where you use your friend’s prescription.
Although this is still mere abuse, it becomes an addiction when the use becomes compulsive. In such cases, you can’t help yourself. You keep using the drugs regardless of the adverse effects it has on your body.
Why people get addicted to prescription drugs
Now, you must be wondering why people get addicted to prescription drugs. After all, it’s dangerous to the body. The standard process is where there is a prescription of an addictive drug. Then, after use, you get dependent on the drug.
Typically, it can occur because the actual prescribed dosage turns out not to be so “impactful”. Then, you start to increase your dosage. In turn, a high level of tolerance and dependency emerges.
However, in some cases, it may be due to intense withdrawal symptoms. This occurs when you try to stop the drug after prolonged usage. Unfortunately, your body reacts, causing you to keep using it.
Alternatively, it can occur outside a medical prescription. In such cases, you access these drugs from various sources. For instance, if you’re a teenager, you may access addictive prescription drugs from your parent’s cabinet.
This choice is common for a variety of reasons. For example, you can use it to:
- Get high or feel good.
- Relieve tension or relax.
- Increase alertness or reduce appetite.
- Improve your concentration and performance during academic activities.
Note that in these cases, the drugs react with your brain and nerves. It then produces a pleasurable feeling that your body wants to keep experiencing. Unfortunately, your brain gets more accustomed to it with each use, and it becomes less satisfying.
However, your brain continues to demand the heightened pleasure you experienced earlier. Hence, to keep it up, you begin an uncontrollable usage, which becomes an addiction. Fortunately, you can get addiction treatment services to help you.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction
You may be in denial as to whether there’s a case of prescription drug addiction. Well, that’s why we’re here.
Here are a few symptoms that you should watch out for.
- Stealing, selling or forging prescriptions.
- Hostility or excessive mood swings.
- Using a dosage higher than that actually prescribed.
- Poor decision making.
- Decrease or increase in sleep.
- Continuous loss of medications and asking the doctor to write more or new prescriptions.
- Obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors.
However, you should know that the symptoms may depend on the addictive prescription drugs in use. Generally, you can associate the following symptoms with opioids.
- Euphoria or feeling high
- Slow breathing rate
- Poor coordination
- Increased or worsened sensitivity to pain
- More doses are required to relieve pain.
On the other hand, you can associate the following symptoms with sedatives.
- Unsteady walking
- Poor concentration
- Slurred speech
- Slowed breathing
- Memory issues.
Finally, you can associate the following symptoms of prescription drug addiction with stimulants.
- Increased alertness
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Reduced appetite
- High body temperature
Risk Factors Associated with Prescription Drug Addiction
Also, to understand why people get addicted to prescription drugs, you’ll need to know the risk factors. These are the factors that push most people close to prescription drug addiction issues.
Although these factors are most common among teens, they are no respecter of age. As such, they can happen to anybody. Major risk factors that should put you on alert include:
- Personal history of addiction to various substances whether present or past
- Family history of addiction to substances
- Existing mental conditions
- Social environment or peer pressure that promotes substance abuse
- Ease of access to prescription drugs, for example, a family member with a steady supply of such drugs.
- Misinformation or lack of information about the potential harm of prescription drugs.
Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction
You’ll hear a lot about the harmful consequences of getting addicted to a prescription drug. It’s no joke. Various consequences come from this addiction. One prominent result of addiction is physical dependence.
Physical dependence occurs in situations where you have had prolonged use of the drug. In such a case, your body has gotten accustomed to the drug. Even more, your brain and body regard the drug as a necessary element for various performance.
As such, your body continually demands the presence of such drugs. Also, in such cases, your body finds it almost impossible to perform basic functions without the prescription. Worse, where you try to stop, you experience severe negative symptoms.
However, beyond physical dependence, other consequences include:
- Getting caught up in risky actions due to poor judgment
- Criminal actions
- Vehicle accidents
- Use of other recreational and illegal drugs
- Troubled relationships
- Decreased work or academic performance
How to Prevent Addiction to Prescription Drugs
Now that you know why people get addicted to prescription drugs, there’s one more thing left. You’ll need to know how to prevent cases of addiction. So, here are some tips that’ll prove useful.
Ensure you get the right and proper medication
It’s vital to ensure you’re using the right medication. As such, ensure you inform your doctor of all essential medical conditions. This will extend to your previous and present medication. Also, disclose any history of substance abuse.
Regularly report to your doctor
Periodically inform your doctor about your progress with the medication. This becomes even more important in a case where you experience any of the symptoms of prescription drug addiction. So, inform your doctor as promptly as possible.
Stay informed about your medication
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is no concern of yours. Again, you don’t need to be a health practitioner to access necessary information. So, ensure you’re well aware of the purpose of your drugs.
You can always ask your pharmacist or doctor to explain this to you. Also, confirm what other drugs you need to avoid during the period of the medication.
Avoid using other prescription drugs
“I also have back pain, can I get some of your drugs” should never be an option. You need to ensure you visit the doctor if you have any medical condition that requires a drug.
This is because you can never be sure of the other person’s underlying medical condition. More importantly, how it differs from yours. Always visit the doctor for a prescription.
Getting addicted to prescription drugs is a common occurrence today. Unfortunately, it comes with loads of negative consequences. As such, it is necessary to understand it.
In this article, we’ve explained why people get addicted to prescription drugs. We’ve also told you how to stay safe. However, if you’re already depending on prescription drugs, it’s not too late.
Here at Addictions CA, we offer first-class addiction treatment for prescription drug abuse. Our experts can develop a personalized treatment course to help you attain long-term sobriety. Contact us today!