While it may not be an illegal substance, the growing issue of prescription drug abuse is a new problem facing society today. No one chooses to become an addict especially in situations where one is taking prescription drugs. Reports show that one in every five Americans has reported misusing a prescription drug at one time or another but that in itself does not make them an addict. Most people will put away that prescription with no harm done.
It appears that just like with other addictions there are those who have a genetic predisposition to drug use and that prolonged use may actually enhance that disposition leading to chemical changes in the brain. For those people, taking pills can lead them down a road where with every repetition of the dosage the cycle of addiction becomes stronger until they are fully in the grips of the drug.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse
When a person is addicted to narcotics the brain will go through some serious changes. Prescription drug addiction can alter the regions of the brain that are responsible for controlling a person’s moods and behaviors. And when a person has been abusing these drugs for a long time it has had more than enough time to virtually impact every system in the body in some form or another.
This can be quite dangerous as cutting off the drug suddenly can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms that could include craving the drug, diarrhea, large pupils, yawning, abdominal pain, chills and goose bumps, nausea and vomiting, body aches, and agitation and severe negative moods.
The entire experience can give the patient extreme discomfort that could last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on how long the person has been using.
In the past, counselors and medical professionals that treated drug abuse didn’t really need to widen their base of knowledge. They were familiar with the effects of many street drugs and their effects on the human body and they know how to guide their patients away from such practices. However, today the problem with prescription drug abuse has made the situation much more complicated.
Today’s counselors need to be well versed on prescription drugs not just the illicit street drugs. It will require a higher level of competency, training, and education because the needs with prescription addicts are different from the more common street drugs like marijuana or even alcohol. It will require that counselors have more medical knowledge than they needed before and more frequent consultations with medical directors to understand how these drugs are affecting their patients and the best way to treat them.
Breaking free from prescription drug abuse can be very hard to endure and many people cannot succeed the first time. Medical professionals, counselors, and others experienced in treating these types of addictions will have to work closely together to help the patient through such a difficult time. Sometimes medications have been used to ease the physical and mental discomfort that may last for weeks even after the detox period is completed.