Prescription drug abuse is claiming more lives than ever. In fact, many recent surveys, including those done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), state that prescription drug abuse has been continuously increasing among young adults, thereby, leading to more prescription drug overdose deaths than a decade ago. Yet the fact that prescription drugs save lives and give the much-needed relief from pain and illnesses cannot be negated.
Prescription drugs abuse happens whenever they are consumed in a manner or quantity not recommended by the prescribing doctor. Methods of abuse include taking drugs in a greater quantity than directed or snorting crushed pills in an effort to get an enhanced effect. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately an estimated 8.2 million adults aged 26 or older misused pain relievers in 2015. This number represents 3.9 percent of this or the older age group who used prescription drugs non-medically in the previous year.
It is a fact that the use of various drugs can lead to the development of prescription drug addiction. According to the NIDA, the three classes of most abused prescription drugs are opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants and stimulants.
Opioids are used to treat intense pain that cannot be relieved through any other means. In addition to pain relief, they can also produce the feelings of well-being and euphoria. The well-known examples of opioid pain relievers include drugs that contain active ingredients, such as codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Some of the common opioid brand names are:
- Tylenol with Codeine
According to NIDA, “More than 2 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. The terrible consequences of this trend include overdose deaths, which have more than quadrupled in the past decade and a half.”
The signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction vary between classes of drugs. One can identify the presence of opioid abuse or addiction with the help of following symptoms:
- Feeling high (euphoria)
- Slow breathing rate
- Poor coordination
- Increase in pain with higher doses