Prescription drug abuse most commonly affects patients who are prescribed some pain relieving medications. Apart from these patients may also develop addiction to central nervous system (CNS) depressants known as tranquilizers and sedatives as well as stimulants.
Prescription Drug Abuse - Opioids
Opioids are medications that can easily cause addiction. They are only prescribed in people suffering from excruciating pain, the type that cannot be brought under control with other pain killers.
Opioids are powerful analgesic drugs which can alleviate even the most intensive pain. If they are administered under supervision and in optimal doses, they do not cause addiction.
Most of the time patients are prescribed oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, codeine etc. Excruciating pain is successfully brought under control with morphine and fentanyl. Codeine can be efficient in case of mild pain. Apart from the mentioned, there are several more opioids that can be prescribed for pain relief and these include propoxyphene, hydromorphone and meperidine. However, doctors may not opt for these drugs because of their side effects.
Opioids Addiction and Abuse
Opioids act after binding to opioid receptors of the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. This connection is actually the one responsible for the change of the way the affected person experiences pain.
In people who are feeling excruciating pain, opioids bring relief and there are no additional sensations such as euphoria. Patients who have managed to bring their pain under control and who keep on increasing the dose because they also want to feel euphoria are the ones with developed addiction. In them abrupt discontinuation will cause a palette of withdrawal symptoms and signs.
Furthermore, people who are prescribed opioids and take these drugs for an extended period of time eventually develop a physical dependence. The body may adapt to the administered dose and one can end up with tolerance.
Because of all the mentioned opioids are only prescribed and administered under medical supervision. Patients also need to be monitored while undergoing withdrawal period once the drug is discontinued.
Symptoms of withdrawal in case of opioids include restlessness, agitation, irritation, anxiety, insomnia and involuntary leg movement. The digestive problems include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps.
There is strong craving, sweating, shakes and chills, muscle ache and cold flushes with goose bumps known as cold turkey. Finally, dilated pupils and yawning occur once the person enters withdrawal.
All in all, even though opioids can bring relief from pain, they are potent drugs that can easily cause addiction and this is the reason why they are actually last resort for people suffering from unbearable pain.