Prescription drug abuse affects people from all walks of life, with the over use and misuse of legitimate medications a huge problem in American society. Prescription drug abuse often requires medical detox and rehab treatment, with aftercare programs also initiated to ensure long-term recovery. Prescription drug abuse involves three main classes of drugs: opioid painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants.
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The vast majority of medicinal drug abuse takes place with just three classes of drugs. Apart from alcohol and tobacco, opioid painkillers are the most widely abused legal substances in the United States.
Opioid painkillers include morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone and buprenorphine. These drugs are available either as single-substance medications or combination products combined with Paracetamol, with common trade names including Actiq, Lorcet, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Demerol, OxyContin, Endocet, and Percocet.
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are the second most widely abused class of prescription drugs, with these substances also known as sedatives or tranquilizers. While opioids and alcohol are also classed as CNS depressants, they are normally defined separately to sedative medications. Benzodiazepines are in this class, including Valium and Xanax.
Stimulants are the third most widely abused prescription drugs, including amphetamines like Adderall and methylphenidate drugs such as Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, and Ritalin.
There are many ways to misuse or over use prescription medications, with legitimate drugs available either through the medical system or on the black market. Common methods of abuse include taking larger doses than prescribed, combining medications, purchasing scripts on the black market, purchasing drugs on the black market, taking drugs intended for another person, and using a different method of administration than intended.
While most people source medications from known associates or single doctors, multiple doctors are also used in a practice known as "doctor shopping". Patterns of prescription drug abuse are varied, with some people slowly becoming dependent on medications over time and other abusing drugs on purpose for recreational reasons.
Opioids are any chemical that resemble naturally occurring opiates, with these analgesic drugs widely taken to treat acute and chronic pain. Opioids are widely abused for their euphoric qualities, with tolerance and dependence often resulting from extensive and long-term use. Common side effects of opioid use include sedation, respiratory depression and constipation, with nausea and vomiting also likely when people start using these drugs.
A medical detoxification period is normally required to enable discontinuation, with the long-term prescription of opioids also administered in the context of opioid replacement therapy. Behavioral therapies and relapse prevention systems are often administered after detox has been completed, with cognitive, behavioral and motivational principles initiated to encourage long-term recovery.
Benzodiazepines are taken medically to treat sleep and anxiety disorders, with these drugs also used recreationally for their sedative and hypnotic qualities. The long-term psychiatric use or recreational abuse of these drugs often leads to tolerance and dependence, with a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome likely upon discontinuation.
Typical withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines include insomnia, gastric problems, irritability, sweating, tremors, agitation, fearfulness, and muscle spasms. Medications are typically prescribed during the withdrawal period, with a gradual dose reduction of benzodiazepines normally administered along with behavioral therapy and aftercare regimes.