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What You Don’t Know About Prescription Drugs
Due to their potential for abuse and addiction, many prescription drugs have been categorized by the US Drug Enforcement Administration in the same category as opium or cocaine. These include Ritalin and Dexedrine (stimulants), and the painkillers OxyContin, Demerol and Roxanol.
Many illegal street drugs were at one time used or prescribed by doctors or psychiatrists but were later banned when the evidence of their harmful effects could no longer be ignored. Examples are heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and Ecstasy.
Abuse of prescription drugs can be even riskier than the abuse of illegally manufactured drugs. The high potency of some of the synthetic (man-made) drugs available as prescription drugs creates a high overdose risk. This is particularly true of OxyContin and similar painkillers, where overdose deaths more than doubled over a five-year period.
Many people don’t realize that distributing or selling prescription drugs (other than by a doctor) is a form of drug dealing and as illegal as selling heroin or cocaine, with costly fines and jail time. When the drug dealing results in death or serious bodily injury, dealers can face life imprisonment.
– From DrugFreeWorld.org (link)
Types of Typically Abused Prescription Drugs
Opioids are pain relievers that act on the nervous system. Typically prescribed by doctors after surgery or to treat ongoing pain, these drugs are the most commonly abused drugs by teens after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.
Opioids attach to opioid receptors to diminish the perception of pain, resulting in a relaxation or euphoric sensation.
These drugs can affect a person’s ability to breathe properly, potentially resulting in life-threatening respiratory problems.
Stimulants, as the name suggests, give your body a stimulation, a jumpstart of alertness and activity within the body. Heart rate and blood pressure are typically elevated and the user can experience increased attention and energy.
These drugs mimic the brain’s neurotransmitters enhancing the overall effect of nerve cells internal messaging. This causes the body to experience an increase in reaction to neurotransmitter release and thus an increase in body activity.
Abuse of stimulants can lead to irregular heartbeat, high body temperatures, and heart failures and seizures.
Central nervous system depressants “depress” the body’s neurotransmission network through the central nervous system and decrease brain activity, resulting in a drowsy or calming effect.
CNS depressants enhance the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a protein that slows down brain activity.
In the short term, depressants slow brain function, lower pulse, breathing rate and blood pressure, cause slow or slurred speech, confusion, and fatigue. As the body creates a tolerance for the drug, higher and higher dosages are necessary to replicate the high. These higher dosages can cause depression, respiratory complications, constant drowsiness, high blood sugar, diabetes, weight gain, coma, and death.
SOME PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE STATISTICS
Prescription Drugs = 45%
Street Drugs = 39%
- 2 times more likely to use alcohol
- 5 times more likely to use marijuana
- 12-20 times more likely to use illegal street drugs
than teens who do not abuse prescription drugs.
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