Prescription drugs are strong medications. This is why you cannot just purchase them over the counter. Even if prescription drugs are beneficial in certain circumstances, their potency poses some serious risks for patients, including addiction.
Doctors Must Weigh the Benefits and Risks of Prescription Drugs
Doctors have to consider the benefits and risks to each patient before prescribing medication, especially opioids. In doing this, they must consider several factors, including the person’s health, weight, age, and prescription history. Based on these considerations, a doctor will determine the frequency and the potency of the prescription. If prescription drugs are misused, they pose the same risk as illegal street drugs. Prescription drugs have been designed to address specific conditions.
However, they have side effects on the body. Patients should be careful when they take prescription medications, especially opioids. Prescription opioids are some of the most addictive drugs on the market. Some people abuse prescription medication because they want to experience the mind-altering effects, not just because they need relief from pain. However, countless individuals are taking opioids because they want to deal with legitimate pain, and they still find themselves addicted to these powerful chemicals. Early identification of prescription drug abuse coupled with early intervention could prevent the proper use of prescription pills from turning into an addiction.
Prescription Drugs and the Brain’s Pleasure Center
Your brain uses neurotransmitters to send messages. Neurotransmitters are attached to receptors that are near cells. The actions of receptors and neurotransmitters cause the effects produced by prescription medication. While each type of prescription medication has a unique effect on the brain, many of them are addictive.
Opioid Pain Medications
Opioids bond with cell molecules in the body called opioid receptors. This is true whether it’s a prescription drug or heroin. Opioid receptors are found on nerve cells throughout your brain and body. In your brain, these receptors are linked to your body’s perception of pleasure and pain. Medications like Vicodin, oxycodone, and fentanyl manipulate how your body perceives pain, making it more tolerable.
Prescription drugs are used in treating ADHD and other attention deficit disorders. Adderall, Ritalin, and others are common forms of this medication. These medications have the same effect on a person’s brain as cocaine because your brain will increase the amount of stored dopamine and norepinephrine.
These medications are designed to make a person feel relaxed and calm. Their effects are similar to club drugs, like GHB. As central nervous system depressants, they can relieve anxiety, making a person feel better. When these drugs are abused, all of them directly or indirectly lead to the increased production of dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway. Constantly looking for that reward experience is what leads to addiction.
Distinguishing Between Regular Use and Addiction
Medications that are designed to work with the brain can eventually change the way that the brain works. This is especially true if they are taken at higher doses and over a longer period. These medications can alter the reward system in the brain. It can reach a point where it is almost impossible for a person to feel good without using the drug. As this happens, the body’s cravings for the drug become more intense. This is where physical dependence sets in. Physical dependence is a key factor in the addiction cycle.
The physical dependence on prescription drugs happens because your body and your brain have been functioning with the drug in your system for an extended time. The body will eventually require a higher drug dose to have the same effect as initially experienced. This term is called “tolerance.” When a person stops using drugs, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms happen. This can lead a person to continue using a drug despite experiencing several negative consequences. It is at this point that full-blown addiction is established.
Taking Steps to Prevent Prescription Drug Addiction
It is imperative that patients carefully follow their doctor’s instructions when taking prescription medications. This can minimize, although not eliminate, the chance of addiction developing. It is important for patients to weigh the risks and benefits of any prescribed medication carefully and to communicate their concerns honestly with their physician. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to prescription drugs, help is out there. We would like to show you how you can break free from prescription drug addiction and start living your best life. Contact us at 855-334-6120 to learn more.