What kind of drugs are prescription drugs?
Did you know that an estimated 48 million people (aged 13 years and older) have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some time in their life?
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people who abuse (misuse) prescription drugs.
In fact, after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most common abued substance.
So, what kind of drugs are prescription drugs?
A prescription drug is a pharmaceutical that legally requires you to get a prescription (authorization) before dispensation.
In contrast, an over-the-counter drug is one which you can obtain without the need to get authorization.
Why are prescription drugs abused?
For a lot of people, the decision to take a prescription drug is voluntary.
However, over some time repeated use of the drug causes structural and functional changes on the brain.
As a result the compulsion to use the prescription drug increases. 3 classes of prescription medication are commonly abused;
1. Opiods – used to treat pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain which results in a diminished effect of a painful stimulus.
Examples of opiods include codeine, hydrocodone and morphin. All these are avialable in different brand names.
2. CNS (Central Nervous System) depressants – used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety.
Include benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin, Xanax and Ativan.
3. Stimulants – like amphetamine, dextroamphetamine or methylphenidate used to treat sleep disorders and attention deficit.
The thin line between use and abuse
When a prescription drug is taken as recommended by a medical practitioner, it is safe.
In this case the benefits of taking the drug outweigh any risks or side effects.
However when they are taken in larger doses (other than the amount prescribed) or for different purposes then they affect the brain/ body just like any narcotic would.
Since the 1990’s prescriptions for opiods, CNS depressants and stimulants have increased perharps due to the greater prevalence of chronic pain.
Who’s at risk of addiction?
The risk of addiction to prescription drugs appears to be influenced by a number of factors.
The more risk factors you are exposed to, the higher the chance of getting anaddiction. Your biological and social environment as well as age/ stage of development have a big infuence.
For example, if a family member has had run ins with prescription drug addiction then you may be at a higher risk of addiction. Similarly, the friend you hang out may influence addiction.
Now that answers the question; what kind of drugs are prescription drugs?