The abuse and misuse of painkillers (or other prescribed medication) has hit epidemic proportions in the United States. Aside from pain and emotional suffering that such an addiction presents to loved ones, the abuse of these pills can bring in several different health complications that can cause lasting harm - or possibly death.
Street Drugs versus Prescription Drugs
Now just because prescription substances are legal in certain situations, it doesn't mean that the substance in question is harmless. A prescription medication is capable of being a lifesaver for individuals who happen to be in pain or sick - if it is used for a limited time and used properly. Even in the event a drug is coming from a doctor and is specifically prescribed to you, there's still risk for danger. This is due to the fact that many prescription drugs have an extensive amount of side effects, so misusing such medications can bring forward a long list of health complications.
Sure, drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine have serious dangers, but prescription drugs can be just as deadly in certain situations. The brain and the body have a difficult time differentiating drugs from a physician and drugs found on the streets, yet both can have toxic effects on one's brain if abused or misused - regardless of where it's coming from.
The National Institute On Drug Abuse discovered that there can several different neurological effects caused by prescription drug misuse varying by medication. Although many of the effects are capable of being corrected, a few of the health issues will follow one into recovery. For example: Long term liver damage can occur using drugs that combine acetaminophen and opiates.
Prescription Pills & The Brain
Neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) send messages to the brain by attaching themselves to receptors on the nearby cells. The actions that these receptors and neurotransmitters carry out are the effects one feels when taking prescribed medication. However, not all of these prescribed drugs have the same side effects. Three main classes are what categorize prescription drugs and how they impact the brain.
- Opioid Medications - This classification of prescription drugs includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine, which are often prescribed medication to suppress pain. When used properly, these opioids are incredibly useful for individuals who suffer chronic pain or pain post surgery. Such drugs act by attaching to the opioid receptors in your spinal cord and brain, then block the pain message transmission to your brain. In addition to this, many opioids act on the reward system of your brain by causing feelings of pleasure.
- Prescription Stimulants - The particular class of drugs does include Ritalin as a stimulant, as it has effects that are very much similar to cocaine. Why? Well, it causes a buildup of chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.
- Prescription Depressants - As far as these medications, they make an individual feel relaxed and calm. These medications offer similar feelings to famous club drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB.
Addiction & Risk
Addiction is known as a brain disorder that comes with regular drug usage. This regular drug usage alters the function of one's brain circuitry that handles memory and learning, impulse control, decision-making, stress, reward, control pleasures, and numerous other functions. As the addiction grows stronger, a higher dosage is necessary (of the drug) to create positive effects, which also makes it harder for one to pleasure natural rewards such as positive social interaction, sex, or food. Individuals with addiction also find it more difficult stop seeking drugs, control their impulse, and manage stress. Sadly, the drug becomes necessary for basic functioning and does not provide much (if any) high.
So just because a doctor prescribed you medication, it doesn't mean that there's no likelihood you'll become addicted to the said drug. Most individuals who became addicted to opioid painkillers did not plan on becoming addicted. In context of abuse, it doesn't take place until such medications are taken in a dose or manner that wasn't prescribed. Addiction and misuse may also result in the event an individual takes medications that were intended for another person. To make matters worse, the internet has made such activity more accessible in the event of misuse.
Brain Injuries & Withdrawal
The issues of brain injury go much further than addiction. Long-term misuse opens the window for withdrawal in the event the drug happens to be discontinued. Depending on the drug, withdrawal symptoms can include goosebumps, cold flashes, diarrhea, bone pain, muscle pain, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness, and so much more. Thankfully, we're here to protect you so you can see results in a brain injury case. Contact us today for further information!
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