Can you get addicted to medication?
Although prescribed medication is legal, a lot of people find themselves becoming addicted to it. How does this happen? Read this to find out.
What is addiction to medication?
Addiction to medication (also known as prescription drug abuse) is when you become addicted to medication and end up not using it the way a health care professional has advised you to. This can be anything from taking a friend's prescription painkiller for your backache, to snorting or injecting pills to get high. It can be very addictive and make you dependent on meds in order to function or ‘feel good’.
Prescription drug abuse is becoming a big problem, since the meds are easy to get because they are all around us. Medication that is most often abused includes painkillers, anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills.
Types of meds people can get addicted to
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse depend on the type of drug taken. Because of their mind-changing properties, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are:
Pain killers, which are used to treat pain.
Anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills, used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
Stimulants, such as methylphenidate or Ritalin, which is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain sleep disorders.
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse
You should be worried if you or a loved are starting to steal, forge or sell prescriptions, are taking higher doses of medication than prescribed and become moody or aggressive when you have not taken any pills.
When you are addicted to medication you can also be sleeping less or more than you usually do, make poor decisions, appear to be high, and unusually energetic at times.
Effects of prescription drug abuse
Misusing medication can lead to many health disorders, such as issues with your heart and lungs, liver conditions and damage to your kidneys. It’s best to be careful with how you take your meds early on to avoid any permanent damage to your health.
When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor if you think you may have a problem with prescription drug use. You may feel embarrassed to talk about it — but remember that medical professionals are trained to help you, not judge you. It's easier to tackle the problem early before it becomes an addiction and leads to more serious problems. You can also get in touch with Narcotics Anonymous on their helpline: 011 509 0031 / 083 900 6962.
Always remember to take your medication as prescribed, Choma, because medication can be addictive and can have some lasting effects on your health.
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