Over four billion prescriptions are written in America every year, and that number is growing by about a billion every four years. As America ages, long term drug usage to manage a variety of health conditions is becoming more common. The increasing use of prescription drugs is thought to be one factor that is driving an increase in prescription drug abuse. Painkillers like hydrocodone are some of the most frequently prescribed drugs in America. In addition to being used to manage short term or acute pain, they are often given to patients dealing with long term or chronic pain. Unfortunately, these popular- prescribed drugs have serious side effects when used over the long term and drug abuse detox can be considerable difficult. Although most people take prescription medications responsibly, there has been an astounding increase in the abuse of prescription drugs in the U.S. that is creating negative effects, including addiction and overdoses. Hospital emergency rooms are reporting record numbers of individuals being treated for adverse side effects from the taking huge doses of prescription drugs.
The long-term use of painkillers (opiods) to manage chronic pain from a variety of conditions exposes patients to the unintended side effect of prescription drug abuse and addiction. Many doctors are reluctant to talk about the effects of long term prescription drug use with their patients. A study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse revealed that almost half of all physicians have some difficulty in discussing the potential for prescription drug abuse with patients. The study also showed that long term pain management is a problematic area for many doctors, who sometimes fail to recognize the warning signs of prescription drug abuse in their patients. The short term effects of opiods includes drowsiness, constipation and depending on the dose, could include depressed respiration. The long term effects of prescription pain pills if taken in too high of a dose, it could cause severe respiratory depression or even death. If opiods are used with alcohol, the effects could be life threatening, because alcohol also causes central nervous system depression.
Although painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs, other substances can have unintended side effects when used over the long term. Anti-depressants, such as Paxil, can trigger behavioral changes over the course of their usage. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), another type of anti-depressant effects can cause sexual dysfunction and weight gain over long-term use. Pain management and relief from depression are just two of the host of benefits that the amazing advances in drug technology have given the world. However, gaining the benefits of these drugs often means taking calculated risks with the side effects of these prescription drugs. As more Americans take medications over the long term, the need for an awareness of the potential for prescription drug abuse grows. Another prescription drug that can cause negative side effects when abused is the Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, which is often prescribed to treat anxiety. The short term effects of this often prescribed prescription drug include feeling tired and physically uncoordinated the first couple of days taking this medication, until the individuals body builds tolerance to the drug. The possible negative effects of the prescription drug Xanax could include seizures after reducing or discontinuing use. The effects of long term use with Xanax include the potential for physical dependence and addiction. Another category of prescription drugs that have many unwanted side effects include the overly prescribed stimulants, including Adderall and Ritalin. This prescription drug is prescribed for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). The effects of these prescription stimulants include enhanced brain activity, causing an increase in alertness and energy. The short term side effects for stimulants can include elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased respiration, and sleep deprivation. The long term effects include the potential for abuse and addiction.
Prescription drugs are meant to be taken according to recommended doses, but can still cause side effects even as they are taken as directed. With prescription drugs such as pain pills regular dosages help fight pain without dangerous side effects, and are thought to reduce the chances of addiction. When taking over the long term, painkillers - even when taken according to schedule - can cause their users to become addicted. However, the legitimacy of prescription drugs has an unintended side effect: they can blind the user, family, and friends to the signs of addiction.