What is Prescription Medicine Abuse?

Generally, prescription medicine abuse is the abuse, or intentional misuse, of prescription medications. In most cases, prescription medicine abuse is when a person intentionally uses his own or another person’s prescription medicine for reasons other than the medicine’s intended purpose. Although prescription drug abuse is illegal in many countries, people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes have been known to abuse prescription medications. Some people abuse prescription medications recreationally, but usually the reason for or result of prescription drug abuse is drug addiction. Many government, nonprofit, and privately owned agencies have programs in place to assist people dealing with prescription drug addiction.

The three most common kinds of prescription drugs people abuse are opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants. Opioids are strong pain medications that usually consist of morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. CNS depressants, which include barbiturates and benzodiazepines, are meant to slow brain function and produce a calming or soothing feeling. People often refer to CNS depressants as sedatives, tranquilizers, and “nerve pills.” Stimulants, like methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine, produce results opposite of CNS depressants because they enhance the speed and clarity of brain function.


Usually, a person will begin abusing prescription drugs because of the good feeling, or the “high,” the drug produces. Continual abuse of the drug can lead to the person developing a drug addiction, prompting him to continue abusing the drug to achieve and maintain that desired effect. Prescription medicine abuse can result in dangerous direct side effects such as impaired judgment, hallucinations, erratic breathing, increased or decreased heart rate, organ damage, and death. Indirect side effects include injuries sustained during, or death caused by, accidents that happen while the person was under the influence of prescription medications. Even people who claim to misuse prescription medications only recreationally can experience these dangerous effects.

Prescription medicine abuse is illegal in most places throughout the world. Generally, this means it’s illegal to sell or give away prescription medications, as well as be in possession of these medications without a prescription. Consequences for these kinds of crimes vary by location and the severity of the crime. Regardless, consequences usually consist of incarceration, admittance to a drug addiction rehabilitation program, or both. Local government and law enforcement agencies can give specific information about prescription drug abuse crimes.

People who don’t abuse drugs but who do have prescription medications can help prevent prescription medication abuse by properly disposing of their medications when they’re finished with them. Many regions have programs in place to help people who are dealing with prescription drug addiction, including coping with withdrawal symptoms and making healthy lifestyle changes. These programs might be managed by government agencies, or they might be operated by nonprofit groups. Some areas also have privately owned and operated substance abuse rehabilitation centers. For more information about such programs, a person can contact his local government agency that oversees drug control policy.



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