When a doctor prescribes you medication, it is undoubtedly for your own good and to aid you in your recovery from a certain illness. However, prescription drug addiction is rising. In some cases, it’s by accident, becoming reliant upon a drug to get you better, while other people are purposely abusing prescription drugs and becoming hooked.
It’s becoming a huge problem worldwide, with many people today going through residential rehab for it, for example. But there are many other addictive prescription drugs, too, and here are five more commonly prescribed drugs that you should be aware of.
Codeine, a commonly prescribed opioid, is often utilized to alleviate moderate to severe pain. It achieves its pain-relieving effects by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord. While effective in managing discomfort, codeine’s opioid nature places it at risk for misuse and dependency. Extended use or higher doses can lead to tolerance, where the body requires more of the drug to achieve the same effects. As dependency develops, users may find it challenging to stop using codeine without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Vigilance and cautious usage are vital when prescribed codeine.
Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are prescribed to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation. These medications enhance the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces brain activity and creates a calming effect.
However, benzodiazepines carry a risk of dependence, particularly when used beyond the recommended timeframe. Abrupt discontinuation can trigger withdrawal symptoms such as rebound anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Responsible use and adherence to prescribed guidelines are crucial to mitigate the potential for addiction.
Opioid painkillers, including morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl, are potent medications frequently prescribed for severe pain management. These drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain to reduce pain sensations. While indispensable in certain medical scenarios, opioids have a well-documented potential for addiction. Prolonged or excessive use can lead to physical dependence and a challenging withdrawal process when discontinuing. Close monitoring by a healthcare professional, along with exploring alternative pain management strategies, can help mitigate the risk of opioid addiction.
Stimulant medications, like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamines (Adderall), are prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. These drugs enhance neurotransmitter activity in the brain, increasing alertness and focus.
However, stimulants also have a potential for misuse and addiction, especially when used without a valid medical indication. Long-term use or escalating dosages can lead to tolerance, dependence, and even illicit distribution. Close communication with a healthcare provider is essential to ensure the responsible use of stimulant medications.
Sleep medications, including zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), are prescribed to address insomnia and promote sleep. These medications act on brain receptors to induce drowsiness and facilitate rest. However, relying on sleep medications for an extended period can lead to tolerance and dependence. Abrupt cessation can trigger rebound insomnia, reinforcing the cycle of dependence. Establishing healthy sleep habits and exploring non-pharmacological approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), can help reduce the risk of sleep medication addiction.