PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE
What do you think of when you hear the words ‘drug addict’? Do all kinds of scary images come to mind? In my 13 years of working with people who have addictions, each one of them has been an ordinary human being caught up in extraordinary situations. Not one of them has ever wanted to grow up to be a drug addict. These people come from all walks of life, all demographics and who may be functioning or non-functioning with regards to their lives, jobs, etc.
One group of addictions that have been underestimated is prescription drug abuse. There seems to be a different mindset with regards to this addiction mainly because prescription drugs are seen as helpful, not harmful and that they are given to us by doctors so they are safe. This could not be farther from the truth.
Prescription drug use is on the rise in the arena of drug abuse. This is mostly due to the improper use of these drugs and the type of drugs themselves. Prescription drugs that most commonly become addictive are ‘narcotic’ based drugs. These drugs are painkillers mostly, but others are for anxiety, sleep disorders, muscle relaxers as well as stimulant and depressive drugs.
Two factors usually come into play when an addiction is formed by use of prescription drugs. One way being that the drug is taken improperly. This means that some people, especially the elderly or people suffering with cognitive disorders may forget if they’ve taken the pills and take more, or take them in a way that was not prescribed, leading to doubling and even tripling the amount that was prescribed. This can have devastating effects. They may take other peoples prescription meds that are not suitable for them, even though they have the same symptoms.
Another way is that people become addicted to the ‘effects’ and sometimes ’side effects’ of the medication. They like the fact that they can relax without worries when they take their meds, or that the pain goes away and also gives them a euphoric feeling. They then start taking the medication whenever they want to reproduce those effects, regardless of whether they are in pain, can’t sleep, or whatever the original issue was.
If you or someone you know is addicted to prescription drugs, please call for help, or tell your doctor. This is serious and can be life threatening. You can call Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000 for information about the drugs and their effects or you can call any drug treatment centre. The phone number for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) which can provide information and treatment is 416-535-8501 or 1-800-463-6273′.
Keep your face to the sunshine.