Prescription drug abuse affects all age groups, but it is most common among young people. The most abused prescription drug types are painkillers (5.6 million abusers), tranquilizers (2.8 million abusers) and stimulants (1.5 million abusers). When asked why they use prescription drugs, teenagers all over United States responded with the following reasons:
- “Prescription drugs are easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets.”
- “Prescription drugs are available everywhere.”
- “Prescription drugs are not illegal drugs.”
- “They are easy to get by using other people’s prescription.”
- “Safer to use and there is less shame attached to using it compared to illegal drugs.”
Clearly, there is a massive lack of education about drug safety and proper drug use among the youth. Early identification of drug abuse as well as early intervention can greatly prevent severe situations involving drug addiction. But the first step that can really help everyone (including those who are either already aware that they’re abusing drugs, or simply people who want to help someone they know suffering from drug abuse) is a concrete understanding of the real consequences that come with drug abuse.
General Health Problems | Prescription drug addiction can cause choking, mood changes, decrease cognitive function, interruptions in menstrual cycle, infertility and slowed breathing. In serious cases, drug abuse causes coma or even death, especially if there’s a severe slowdown in breathing. Abuse of depressants, sedatives and tranquilizers also cause memory loss and seizures, while stimulants can trigger mild to severe paranoia, increase in body temperature and abnormal heartbeat, as well as cardiovascular problems and fatal seizures.
Accidents | Abuse of sedatives in particular can really put one at risk of car accidents. There is also a greater risk of physical injury because sedatives and other types of drugs cause your thinking to become impaired. Drug abuse has been found to be one of the major causes of poor judgment among people, in general.
Stroke | Stroke is defined as the rapid loss of brain function caused by a disturbance in the blood flow, and many cases of strokes have been linked to prescription drug abuse. There are cases when drugs cause the forming of blood clots. When blood clots move through the body, they can block the blood flow to the brain, which can be very fatal.
Psychological Problems | Drug abuse does not just come with physical consequences, it also comes with psychological consequences, which can be just as serious. Most people who abuse drugs do so for the euphoric effects, but the euphoria gained from prescription drugs comes with other psychologically devastating experiences. This includes paranoia, severe depression, lowered self-esteem, social anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Most of these effects come from the psychological dependence in which people internally tell themselves “I feel so down right now, so maybe I should take more pills to get my usual high, my usual fix.”
Knowing that drug abuse is a serious problem, as well as getting yourself familiar with the consequences and detrimental effects of abusing prescription drugs, is one of the most important steps in preventing or beginning to treat drug abuse.