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Reduce Prescription Drug Addiction By Locking Up Your Prescriptions
Media coverage of drug abuse by teenagers and young adults continues to be dominated by reports of pilfering drugs from parents, neighbors and relatives. Pick up a newspaper on any day of the week, and you’re likely to find a story about a teenager or young adult either dying from an overdose, or entering drug rehab or drug detox to handle a prescription drug addiction.
Media reports and surveys reveal that prescription drug problems usually begin when drugs are stolen from a parent, a friend’s parent, or an unsuspecting neighbor. Leaving dangerous drugs in medicine cabinets, on bedside tables, in drawers and in kitchen cabinets, where anyone can help themselves, risks prescription drug addiction and potential loss of life for people of all ages. And this is particularly true for younger adults and teens — the age group with the fastest-growing incidence of prescription drug addiction and abuse in the country.
Prescription drugs are perceived by younger Americans as safer than street drugs. Few kids willingly try heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, yet they quickly try prescription drugs, which in fact are identical to street drugs in their potential to create prescription drug addiction and rapid, unexpected death — especially when combined with other drugs or alcohol.
Anyone with prescription drugs at home should lock them up and hide the key. The responsibility to safeguard young people from prescription drug addiction lies with all parents, and everyone else with addictive prescription drugs in their possession. Believe it or not, there’s a vastly wider variety of dangerous prescription drugs than street drugs.
Common household prescription drugs and symptoms of abuse.
Opioid pain relievers are among the most addictive and deadly, claiming more prescription drug addiction and death than all others. In this group are methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, OxyContin, Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet, and a long list of opioids, including common cough medicines, that can rapidly create a full-blown prescription drug addiction or even death. If you see a young person with constricted pupils, or suffering unexpected nausea and vomiting, or worse, respiratory depression (difficulty breathing or very slow, shallow breathing — especially if they’re unconscious) — dial 911 immediately. This person is at risk of death from overdose or a combination of drugs or drugs and alcohol.
Stimulant abuse is spreading like wildfire, because for some people, in the beginning, they seem to increase alertness, attention, and energy along with a sense of euphoria. This group includes widely available kid drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, plus dexedrine and a long list of ‘speed’ type prescription medications. Stimulants increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose, and increase breathing, with a potential for heart attacks or lethal seizures. Look for unexplained anxiety, delusions, flushed skin, and if it’s the worst case scenario, chest pain with heart palpitations, call 911.
Depressant abuse is widespread among young and old people alike. These drugs include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, marijuana and even some inhalants. Someone abusing depressants could exhibit slurred speech, dizziness, slowed pulse and breathing, respiratory depression, drowsiness, dangerously low blood pressure, poor concentration, fatigue and confusion, as well as impaired coordination, memory and judgment. If the person is in difficulty do not hesitate to dial 911.
All three of these categories include drugs that can lead to prescription drug addiction, drug-related crime and messed up lives, as well as serious long-term injury or even death. If you suspect a prescription drug addiction in a friend or relative, call a medical drug detox center and speak to a professional and get more information. It’s better to be safe than to wait, and be sorry you did.
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