Prescription Drug Abuse: Key Facts to Know
Reasons & Remedies Surrounding Prescription Drug Fraud
Between 1997 and 2016, prescriptions written for US kids and adults increased 85%, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion, while a Consumer Reports survey found that 55% of Americans regularly take multiple prescription drugs. While prescriptions are beneficial and even life-saving for people with various types of physical and mental health conditions, they still affect the brain’s chemistry and thus create the potential for abuse and addiction. The physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse may depend on the type of drug being abused. Examples include:
Physical Abuse Symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Shallow breathing
Psychological Abuse Symptoms
- Mood swings
Behavioral Abuse Symptoms
- Visiting multiple physicians to obtain more prescriptions, or lying about one’s condition to extend a prescription
- Stealing money, or committing other crimes, to obtain drugs or money for drugs
- Forging prescriptions
- Having poor judgment and impulse control
With this in mind, let’s discuss the most commonly abused types of prescription medications. They include:
Stimulants: Typically used to treat psychological or sleep disorders, stimulants are intended to increase energy and alertness and last for varying amounts of time.
- Short-acting: Includes Adderall, Ritalin, ProCentra and Zenzedi
- Intermediate-acting: Includes Ritalin SR, Methylin ER, Metadate ER and Evekeo
- Long-acting: Includes Adderall XR, Concerta, Mydayis and Focalin XR
Opioids: Synthetic pain relievers and sedatives that are usually prescribed to people with moderate to severe pain from surgical procedures or injuries. As highly-addictive drugs, opioids are typically not used long-term. Common opioids include Morphine, Oxycodone, Codeine and Methadone.
Depressants: Also referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers, these drugs inhibit the central nervous system in order to provide relaxation, calmness, drowsiness and pain relief to individuals who suffer from anxiety or sleep disorders. You can think of depressants as opposites of stimulants.
- Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications
Factors Leading to Prescription Drug Abuse & Addiction
Although prescription drug addiction can stem from personal history, the nature of the disorder or issue being treated and co-occurring disorders, depressants, stimulants, and opioids are often abused due to their impacts on the brain’s chemistry. When used as directed, prescription drugs can help the brain. However, individuals who take prescription drugs long-term, in higher doses than prescribed or recreationally for no treatable disorder, can depend on the drugs so heavily that their brains cannot function without the drugs.
For instance, opioids trigger the release of endorphins and, over time, cause the brain to stop producing endorphins. As such, the brain will depend on opioids to induce feelings of pleasure. Depressants produce pleasuring and calming feelings and cause users to develop a tolerance and rely on heavier doses to produce similar effects, just like opioids. Stimulants can become addictive when individuals depend on them to feel focused, energized and happy. Prescribed to people with attention and sleep disorders, stimulants can easily become addictive and even drive users to turn to cocaine and methamphetamine when unavailable.
Prescription drug abusers can recover through treatment options such as inpatient or residential rehabilitation centers, outpatient rehabilitation programs, group therapy programs and individual mental health and addictions counseling. Their withdrawal symptoms will depend on the type of drug abused and length of the addiction, and can best be addressed by a trained medical professional.
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Fighting for Treatment Over Punishment for Prescription Drug Crime Defendants
At The Clark Law Firm, our Fort Worth prescription drug crime defense attorney understands that our clients would benefit from getting professional help rather than suffering behind bars, where they may get their hands on even worse illicit substances. Receiving proper medical care is a much more viable option than going to jail and paying expensive fines, as it can help people in need get back on their feet and become better citizens of society.
As a former prosecutor, our lawyer can strategically negotiate for alternatives to incarceration on behalf of our clients so they can work towards a healthier life and put their case behind them, where it belongs. To discuss your charges with our firm, please contact us at (817) 435-4970!