Prescription drug addiction

Prescription drug abuse (also known as: prescription or medication drug dependency) is a form of covert, dangerous chemical dependency known as toxicomania. Toxicomania occurs when a prescription drug is used with a deliberate intention of inducing a psychoactive reaction. In that case, toxicomania involves also a compulsion to use the drug in order to avoid withdrawal effects.

Similar to other forms of addiction, prescription drug abuse is associated with constant dosage increase to achieve the desired psychoactive effect – this, however and especially in case of prescription drugs, inevitably leads to dangerous side effects including poisoning or even death.

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Withdrawal effects caused by abusing prescription drus are particularly severe since prescription drugs strongly affect the addict’s psychological and somatic state.

The earliest and primary form of prescription drug addiction is related to psychological dependency, whereas the physical (somatic) dependency may develop as secondary and only later during the addiction. The physical dependency is, however, particularly dangerous since an abrupt change in the drug intake might disrupt functioning of vital organs and result in changes to blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory or digestion problems.

Prescription drug abuse impacts metabolism such that eventually the drug itself becomes necessary to properly regulate it. One of many typically abused prescription drugs are sleeping pills. Intended to help with insomnia, very soon these drugs are abused to cure anxiety, panic attacks or emotional imbalance. As the drug tolerance builds up and the addiction becomes stronger, the addict needs continuously larger drug amounts in order to achieve the desired effect.

Prescription drug addiction involves drugs such as pain killers, sleeping pills, anabolic steroids and the so-called euphoriant drugs (euphoria inducing psychoactive substances).
Often toxicomania involves also hormonal medications abuse which are particularly harmful to health. When abused with the intention to speed up weight loss, hormonal medications overdose leads to hyperthyroidism. Similar, hormonal medication abuse intended to preserve youthful appearances result in uterus tumours.

Prescription drug abuse can be divided into two forms: the more severe known as addiction (or toxicomania) and the lesser severe which can be referred to as a habitual prescription drug use.
The compulsion to find and abuse the drug is an inherent element of prescription drug addiction. Mixing and simultaneously abusing several different medications is not uncommon in addicted people – this stems from the fact that human body builds tolerance against one substance and “getting high” is no longer possible with only one type of medication. If the medications intake harms the addict’s overall condition, the abuse has already morphed into a full-blown addiction.

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Prescription drug dependencies can be divided into the following categories:

  • morphine dependencies
  • cocaine dependencies
  • hashish dependencies
  • amphetamine dependencies
  • khat (qat) drug dependencies
  • hallucinogens dependencies

Mixing of the following substances is particularly dangerous when abusing prescription drugs:

  • alcohol
  • barbiturates
  • benzodiazepines
  • nonbenzodiazepines

All the aforementioned substances are GABAA receptors (GABAA agonists) stimulants. This results in cross-tolerance between those substances: a person addicted to one of those substances might relapse when using any other of the remaining. On the other hand, however, withdrawal symptoms caused by addiction to any one of the given substances might be alleviated by using one of the remaining prescription drugs within that group (typically diazepam is used).

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