According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, between 2004 and 2011, there was a 132% increases in emergency department visits involving non-medical use of pharmaceuticals aka prescription drug abuse. Topping the list, were several opiate drugs including hydromorphone, hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone, amphetamines such as ADD and ADHD medications, and benzodiazepines.
The propensity to abuse prescription drugs has no boundaries. It is a plight to people from all walks of life, ages, and socioeconomic statuses with dangerous consequences and ramifications that extend far beyond the abuser.
Dangers of Opioid Prescription Drug Abuse
Opioid prescription drug abuse continues to be an epidemic problem in the United States where it has been estimated that we consume more than 80% of the world’s supply of opioid painkillers. According to the CDC, “In 2013, nearly two million Americans abused prescription painkillers.”
Like heroin, these prescription drugs are highly addictive and produce the same effects and consequences for the abuser. In fact, the DEA estimates that nearly 79.5% of heroin initiates are those who switch from controlled prescription drugs because of heroin’s “availability, price differences, and the reformulation of OxyContin®, a commonly abused prescription opioid.”
Opioid are central nervous system depressants that can slow breathing to dangerously low levels causing overdose and death. Overdoses from opioid painkillers occur more than any other prescription drug, cocaine, or heroin. Unfortunately, many opioid abusers are poly-substance users and combine the opioids with other substances increasing their overdose risks.
Other dangers of prescription opioid drug abuse include physical and psychological health problems including communicable diseases and infections, mental health disorders, poor diet and sleep habits, vital organ damage, reduced cognitive, motor, and social functioning skills, and of course, the painful withdrawals that are often repeated multiple times.
Dangers of Amphetamine Abuse
Amphetamine abuse continues to rise among teens and young adults looking to enhance physical and cognitive performance. The abuse of Adderall, and ADHD medication is prevalent among college student looking for an academic advantage by staying up late and increasing their focus power. While ADHD medications help those afflicted with the problem focus, in others, these drugs can actually over-stimulate nerve cells and cause a wide range of health dangers including damges to brain structures and functioning.
Many amphetamine abusers take the drugs while involving themselves in high level exertion activities such as at raves or dance clubs. Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that can lead to overdose with the smallest of doses by increasing heart rate, respiration, and temperature to dangerous degrees. Cardiac arrest, respiratory, renal and urinary failures, psychosis- paranoia, hallucinations, panic or mania, and long term neurological disorders are too many to mention.
Dangers of Benzodiazepines
Initially benzodiazepines may be abused for their calming effects, but, over time, the abuse often causes severe anxiety, panic, paranoia, isolation and dysphoria including depression and suicidal tendencies. Withdrawals from “benzos” are psychologically worse than many drugs and overdose deaths are often intentional.