The non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest-growing drug problem.
Prescription Drug Facts
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) research report Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction, there are three classes of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused, opioids, central nervous system depressants and stimulants. Many Americans benefit from the appropriate use of prescription pain killers, but, when abused, they can be as addictive and dangerous as illegal drugs.
There is no single type of treatment which is appropriate for individuals addicted to prescription drugs. Treatment options must take into account the specific type of drug used along with the needs of the individual. Several options are available for effectively treating addiction to prescription opioids and are drawn from research regarding the treatment of heroin addiction.
Patients addicted to barbiturates or benzodiazepines should not attempt to stop taking the drugs on their own, as withdrawal from these drugs can be problematic, and in the case of certain CNS depressants, potentially life-threatening. Patients addicted to these medications should undergo medically supervised detoxification because the treatment dose must be gradually tapered. Inpatient or outpatient counseling can help the individual during this process. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also successfully been used to help individuals adapt to the removal from benzodiazepines.
The health risks associated with prescription drug abuse vary depending on the drug. For example, abuse of opioids, narcotics and pain relievers can slow or stop breathing. The abuse of depressants, including benzodiazepines and other tranquilizers, barbiturates and other sedatives, can result in seizure, respiratory depression and decreased heart rate. Stimulant abuse can lead to high body temperature, irregular heart rate, cardiovascular system failure and seizure.
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