Sovereign Health Group Blog

Prescription drugs and their alternative abusive uses

Posted on 01-13-2016 Posted in Abuse, Addiction, Drug Abuse - 0 Comments

Prescription drugs

Although they are designed to help people with clinical ailments, approximately 52 million people misuse prescription medications each year. The misuse and abuse of these drugs are rooted in their easy access, as 54.2 percent of Americans obtain prescription medications through a friend of relative for free. Painkillers are snorted or injected, tranquilizers are mixed with other substances and stimulants are overconsumed in short periods of time.

As declared by Michael Klein, Ph.D., director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Controlled Substance Staff, “It’s important to note that all drugs can produce adverse events … Be informed about the effects of prescription drugs and be vigilant.”

The most commonly abused prescription drugs include:

Opioids (5.1 million abusers):

Opioids such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) reduce pain by attaching to specific receptors in various bodily organs that control the sensation. Within the brain, these painkilling chemicals can affect nearby areas that are responsible for reward. When patients begin to use opioids for this sense of reward, the habit can quickly lead to dependence and a host of other health problems that include confusion, drowsiness and gastrointestinal issues.

Painkillers are typically prescribed in pill form for oral consumption to ensure a slow and steady release into the body. Popular alternatives of opioid intake are snorting and injecting, which intensify pleasurable effects but exponentially increase the chance of:

  1. White matter deterioration, which impacts decision-making, behavior regulation and stress responses
  2. Depressed breathing, which can lead to lower oxygen in the brain – a condition known as hypoxia
  3. Overdose

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (2.2 million abusers):

Although clinically utilized to treat anxiety and sleeping disorders, sedating substances like benzodiazepines, barbiturates and various sleep medications are also nonmedically used to increase the activity of a chemical called gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) in the nervous system. GABA inhibits other brain activity and produces a drowsy, calming effect that users may become dependent on.

Sedatives and tranquilizers are often abused along with other substances like alcohol, but these combinations are also responsible for most of the drug’s associated fatalities. When taken with other depressants, a person runs a much higher risk of dealing with:

  1. Disrupted heart rhythm
  2. Slowed breathing
  3. Death

Another dangerous aspect of CNS depressant abuse is the withdrawal effects once prolonged use stops. Due to its inhibitory effect, ceasing the use of these tranquilizers can result in seizures and other life-threatening occurrences.

Stimulants (1.1 million abusers):

Stimulants include the chemical compounds dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate, which are more popularly marketed as Adderall and Ritalin, respectively. For medical purposes, these drugs raise blood pressure and heart rate, tighten blood vessels, increase blood glucose and open up air passages in the body by influencing the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Stimulants also increase dopamine production and rewarding sensations, which can fuel abusive behavior.

Prolonged abuse of stimulants even within a short period can contribute to:

  1. Paranoia or more extreme psychosis
  2. Severely high body heat
  3. Irregular heartbeat or cardiovascular failure
  4. Seizure

Repeated misuse can lead to abuse, abuse can transform into addiction, and addiction can eventually end in death or other severe consequences. If equipped with the right knowledge and resources, you can break this chain before it intensifies with Sovereign Health of Florida. Contact one of our helpline representatives and let medicine stay medicine.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at

We accept Most Private Insurance, reach out to us to so we can help!

Sovereign Health Group is a leading addiction, dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider. Call our admissions team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the help you deserve.

The dual diagnosis program was what attracted me to Sovereign Health. My therapist was always open for discussion and the group sessions were very informative and educational.

Call Now Button