Health and Beauty

Most abused prescription drugs

  • Written by Digital 360

Drug abuse can affect the lives of those experiencing it in so many ways. It’s damaging to relationships, health, career and education. But when we talk about drug abuse or drug addiction, it’s not always hardcore drugs such as heroin or cocaine, or even methamphetamines which are always the problem. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) “the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals drugs is an increasing public health problem in Australia”.

This means that there’s a rise in the use of prescribed drugs for non-medical reasons. And a rise in addiction too.

What are prescription drugs?

Most of us now understand that drugs can be called different brand names. This creates a huge variety of drugs that are frequently abused. However, most of them fall into one of the following categories:

  • Opioids – these are used to treat pain. Codeine, morphine, OxyContin/Oxycodone and Tramadol are all opioids.

  • Central nervous system depressants – these are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Xanan, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, Normison, Temazepam are all forms of benzodiazepines.

  • Stimulants – amphetamines and dextroamphetamines – Adderall or methylphenidate – that are used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy. The common drugs are Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, and Ritalin.

  • Antipsychotics and mood stabilizer – used to treat psychosis and/or stabilize moods in conditions such as bipolar, these are antipsychotic medication. The most common or most prescribed is called Seroquel.

Rising prescription drug overdoses

According to the ABS the most commonly misused pharmaceutical are opioids (painkillers/analgesics), followed by sedatives (sleeping/anti-anxiety medications). And according to a recent ABC article, “overdose deaths from prescription opioids are at record levels in Australia”. The article refers to a Sydney inquest investigating the deaths of six people, where the counsel assisting said “Pharmaceutical opioid deaths in Australia now exceed heroin deaths by a significant margin...the reverse of what was seen in the 1990s”.

What are the signs of an addiction to prescription drugs?

Any of the prescription medicines described in this article are highly addictive. A person may be addicted to prescription drugs but, due to the nature of how they got them, may not know they’re addicted. After all, they are subscribed by doctors to treat a condition, so they may just feel like they are continuing the treatment.

Addiction is a physical or psychological need to use a substance which is often caused by regular, continued use. Some signs somebody you know or even you are addicted to prescription drugs are:

  • Feeling uncomfortable or on edge if you/they haven’t taken any of the drug

  • Needing larger doses of the drug in order to feel the expected effect

  • Not being able to not take them

  • Withdrawing from friends and family and avoiding people who don’t use drugs

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you/they haven’t taken them

  • Lying about how much you’re/they’re using

  • Experiencing problems in your/their relationships, at work or even at school

  • Causing yourself/themselves financial strife because you’re/they’re spending all your/they’re money on drugs

  • Stealing from others or selling your/their own belongings to pay for drugs

  • Losing weight

If you recognise any of the above symptoms and are worried you may have a problem, talk to someone you trust. Start with a family member, teacher or doctor. Alternatively, you can call the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (adf) on 1300 85 85 84 or contact a rehabilitation clinic for help and advice.

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