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Prescription drugs - how to avoid addiction

The misuse of prescription drugs can quickly escalate into addiction.

Misuse means taking a medication in any other way than that which your doctor has prescribed. This includes taking someone else’s medication - either for a legit reason such as pain management or taking it just to get high. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse: Taking prescription drugs to get high is sometimes called "prescription drug abuse." With time, if no preventive measures are taken, this kind of abuse may turn into ongoing and uncontrollable addiction.

There has been a tremendous increase in prescription drug misuse/abuse in the last 15 years, as witnessed by an increased number of emergency room visits, greater number of in-house treatment admissions and more overdose deaths which have all been directly related to prescription drugs. Simply put, if a person starts misusing any prescription, ranging from pain killers to more serious drugs like antidepressants or stimulants just to get the “high” feeling, then it could turn into the most severe form of abuse: addiction.

According to, the prescription drug type classified with the highest risk of addiction is opioids (pain management drugs), followed by central nervous system depressants (anxiety and panic attacks treatment) and stimulants (tiredness and depression treatment).

As stated by data at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, this is an escalating issue which impacts all age groups. However, the most prone to such influence is young adults, followed by the elderly and women. After alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, prescription drugs (taken non-medically) are among the most commonly used drugs by 12th graders. For the elderly patient, more than 80 percent take at least one prescription medication daily, and at least 50 percent take 5 medications and supplements each day.

Ways to prevent PMA (Prescription Medication Abuse):

1) Patient education: Patients should have an understanding that all medications should be taken only as prescribed. Follow the directions on the label or as given by your pharmacist. Never stop or change the way you take a prescription medication without talking to your doctor. Never “share” your prescription medication, and do not ask other to share theirs. Be aware of possible drug interactions, including the use of alcohol. Know how to dispose of unused or expired medication. Talk to your doctor if you feel you might be susceptible to abusing suggested medications. And finally, do your own research. Self-education about addiction, its symptoms and negative outcomes can be very enlightening.

2) Health care professionals: Physicians have to balance the legitimate needs of patients with the potential risk for misuse and possible addiction. When prescribing a new medication, they should be talking with their patients, making them aware of all the information about the drug, including the chances of becoming addicted to it. Additionally, they should keep track of increases in the need of a specific medication (tolerance), as well as any earlier than normal prescription renewals. By asking about all drugs the patient is using, doctors also can help them to recognize that they might have an abuse problem, and provide appropriate treatment, or referral to a treatment program.

​3) Pharmacists: Pharmacists can help by making sure patients understand how and when they should take their medication, and what other medicines and supplements should be avoided while on the medicine. They should also take special care to be on the lookout for altered or fake prescriptions, and report these to the authorities.

“If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.” - Kris Carr

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