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Prescription Drug Addiction in Colorado
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Prescription Drug Addiction in Colorado

Prescription drug addiction in Colorado is a prevalent problem just like elsewhere in the country. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the abuse of prescription opiates is a growing trend. It went from sixth in treatment admissions for 2012 to fifth in 2013 and surpassed cocaine.

Admission for prescription drug addiction in Colorado went from 2.6 percent in 2004 to 7.3 percent in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Even more frightening is the fact that the mortality rate for these prescription medications is increasing with oxycodone and hydrocodone among the top drugs to be seized.

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Since prescription drugs aren’t illegal like cocaine and heroin, many people may not realize just how extensive abuse of these medications is. For some people, they are prescribed a medication for pain or other conditions. When it seems to lose its effectiveness, they may increase the dosage on their own. This is the beginning of prescription medication abuse.

For others, they may never receive a prescription but be given a pill from a friend to help with a self-diagnosed condition. Still others experiment with prescription drugs at parties or other social gatherings because they seem safer than illicit drugs.

Drugs Commonly Abused

By far, the most commonly abused prescription medication is pain relievers, generally opiates. They are derived from the same plant as morphine and heroin, but are considered less addictive. When taken as prescribed, many people have no problem with the medications. However, opiates such as oxycodone can be very addictive when abused.

Sedatives are another prescription medication with the tendency to become addictive. For example, Xanax or Valium have been recognized as highly addictive for some patients. Stimulants are another category or prescription medications that may abused. These drugs are often given to people with ADHD, such as Ritalin or Adderall.

 

Opiates

Opiates are the leading cause of overdose for prescription medication. They are used for pain and may be made from opium or a synthetic version of the drug. Codeine and Percocet are two well-known medications. They react with the brain receptors to decrease the ability to feel pain. Side effects from taking these medications include dizziness, vomiting and nausea, respiratory depression and sedation. People develop a tolerance for this medication and a dependence on it. A feeling of euphoria comes from taking the drug, which is what leads to abuse.

Sedatives

Sedatives are often prescribed to help someone sleep or relax. They help to reduce anxiety. One of the biggest dangers of this category of drugs is mixing it with other drugs or alcohol, which can intensify the effect. The heart rate and breathing can slow down to the point of death.

Symptoms of abusing sedatives include slurred speech, trembling, dilated pupils, loss of coordination and weak pulse. The person may become depressed or disoriented. They may trigger anxiety or depression and lead to thoughts of suicide.

 

Stimulants

Stimulant abuse is a worldwide problem, but most often seen in America through prescription drugs for ADHD. They are easy to abuse, since all you have to do is crush them and snort them to experience the euphoric feeling. College students will take them during exam time to help them stay awake after studying.

These drugs can be addictive, and cause withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue. The person may even become paranoid and hostile over time.

Each of these categories of drugs are unique. They are prescribed for different purposes and may even have different addictive tendencies based on whether they are a Schedule II or III drug or something lower on the scale. The one thing they all have in common is their reaction with the brain, which alters the brain chemistry.

The brain comes to depend on the drugs, and it suffers withdrawal and craves more of the medication when it isn’t in the system. The system also develops a tolerance, requiring more of the drug to experience the same results. This often leads to abuse and overdose.

 

Risks with Prescription Medication Abuse

One of the biggest risks is that people think they are safe since a medical provider prescribes them. This leads the person to take more of the drug and increases the risk of overdose. Another problem is that it often leads to experimenting with other drugs or combining the medication with alcohol, which can intensify the effect and make it more dangerous.

People who abuse prescription medications often move on to even riskier street drugs like heroin when it becomes difficult to obtain the prescription.

 

Treatment Options for Prescription Drugs

People seeking treatment for prescription drug abuse can find centers that specialize in this problem. For those who are also addicted to alcohol or illicit drugs, they need to find a facility equipped to treat all of the abused substances.

Treatment will vary based on the addictive properties of the drug. For some, it may mean going to an outpatient center and learning how to avoid abusing medications. For others, they may require the assistance of an inpatient facility with detox to help them stop using the substance. Everyone must be educated on the dangers of addiction and learn how to avoid a similar circumstance in the future. For those who were given a prescription, they must be even more aware of the risks involved and alert doctors of their prior history.

Seek Help

If you or a loved one are abusing a prescription medication, seek help immediately. Don’t assume that because the medication is prescribed, it’s safer for you to take. Learn about the dangers that come from taking a medication other than the way it was prescribed. Don’t allow your drug abuse to become even more serious or to have long-term consequences. Make a choice to step away from your addiction and life a fulfilling and extraordinary life. Encourage a loved one to seek treatment at a facility to overcome prescription medication abuse before it’s too late. Help is available.