Prescription or Rx drugs are legal products that, when used as directed, can help treat or prevent illness. However, these drugs can also be dangerous when abused or taken incorrectly. Moreover, they can be deadly too when mixed with other drugs, with illegal drugs, or with alcohol. One can never know how these substances will interact with one another or with any health condition a person might have. Understanding and safely using prescription drugs are important aspects of maintaining a person’s health.
Prescription (Rx) drugs are important and safe when treating health problems. To be used safely and legally, a person must obtain a written prescription and use the drugs according to the physician’s orders. If prescription drugs are taken for non-medical reasons or at dosages other than as prescribed by a doctor, they can produce serious health effects, including addiction. This occurrence can usually result in prescription drug abuse. Commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include opioids (for pain), stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy), and central nervous system (CNS) depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders).
- Pain medications (opiates or opioids), when used for medical reasons, can be safe and effective when prescribed by a doctor for people with long-term conditions like arthritis or back pain. They can also be used for short-term pain after surgery. These medicines, however, are the most abused prescription drug class. Since opiates affect the brain and spinal cord, abuse or misuse can lead to addiction or even death.
- Stimulants like methamphetamine which are used for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy is another category of prescription drugs that is often abused. People who abuse stimulants can become addicted to these drugs and may take higher and higher doses. Stimulant abusers may feel very angry or suspicious of other people. They might also experience a very high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, and possibly a heart attack or seizure.
- CNS depressants like sedatives and tranquilizers are prescribed for people who are nervous or anxious or who can’t sleep. People who abuse sedatives and tranquilizers become dependent on them, take higher and higher doses and may experience poor memory and judgment, lack of coordination, and even suicidal ideas. Suddenly stopping these drugs is a shock to the brain that can cause seizures. If combined with painkillers or with alcohol, these drugs can cause breathing and heartbeat to slow down to a dangerously low point, and can even result in death.