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Prescription Drugs

What is prescription drug abuse?

These medications undergo a long period of testing and evaluation before being dispensed by health care professionals to treat symptoms or diseases. If a drug passes this evaluation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it for use in humans. Because these medications are extremely strong, and may have serious side effects, their use must be monitored by medical professionals.

In addition to side effects, which may be harmful in themselves, many prescription drugs have the potential for abuse-use by those without an underlying medical condition in order to achieve a pleasurable sensation.

What effect do prescription drugs have on the user?

The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall into three broad categories: pain relievers, stimulants and depressants. Depending on the medication, these drugs may create a sense of euphoria, tranquility, increased energy or altered states of consciousness. The effects may last from a few minutes to several hours. In overdose cases, their use may lead to respiratory arrest, seizures, heart attack, coma or death.

What are the symptoms of someone under the influence of prescription drugs?

Prescription Pain Relievers, including Oxycontin and Vicodin, can cause euphoric sensations, accompanied by drowsiness, breathing irregularities and constipation. Prescription Central Nervous System Depressants, including Valium and Xanax, gives the user a relaxed and tranquil feeling, but may also cause slowed respiration and heartbeat. The positive sensations brought about by these drugs make them highly addictive. Prescription Central Nervous System Stimulants, a class that includes Ritalin, Dexadrine and other amphetamines, speed up the body’s mental and physical processes. When abused, they can cause seizures or heart failure, increase core body temperature to extreme levels, and induce feelings of paranoia, aggression and hostility.

What are the potential dangers of using prescription drugs?

All prescription medications have undergone years of testing to determine the parameters for their proper use, and are designed to do a specific thing very effectively: manage pain, reduce anxiety or help the patient focus on important tasks. When prescribed by health professionals, the patient’s age, overall health, body size, and other significant factors are considered when determining appropriate dosing.

When used recreationally, these medications can be strong enough to cause overdose with the first use. If the user is fortunate enough to avoid overdosing, he or she will very likely begin developing a tolerance towards drug abuse, thus requiring more medication (or using the medication more often) to achieve the same sensations. This soon leads to dependency (an inability to function without the medication), and the potential for severe withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available.

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