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What is prescription drug abuse?

The drug abuse trend is rapidly shifting from the illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine to legal prescription drugs. This is because they are more readily available and also due to the misconception that because they are legal, prescribed by doctors and dispensed in pharmacies it implies they are safe for use. It is also promoted by the weak control system that penalizes the wrong dispensing of these drugs.

All drugs when used appropriately are good, but when abuse (intentional non medical use or amount of a drug , for example to have a ‘high’ ) sets in it becomes good drugs gone bad. Doctors are aware of the side effects of these drug and take that into consideration before prescribing to a particular patient.

So when you increase your dose or duration of treatment without informing your doctor or worst still using someone else’s prescription, you are setting yourself up for trouble.

These classes of drugs though different in action have a common feature, abuse potential. Apart from anabolic steroids are used to alter the way the brain works, the mood, though and feeling. When used for long can lead to tolerance, dependence and/or addiction.        

  • Opiates (painkillers) like codeine,tramadol, morphine, fentanyl. They are depressants (slows the brain and vital body activities). It is abused to get to no pain effect and the ‘high’          
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (used for anxiety and sleep disoders) like benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium) and barbiturates (e.g. phenobarbital used for seizures).           
  • Stimulants (used to treat attention deficit disoder, depressiona) meaning they speed up the brain and vital body activities e.g. amphetamines. People abuse it to improve alertness and energy.         
  • Anabolic steroids: used to treat some hormonal problems in men and muscle loss due to some diseases. Athletes abuse it to improve athletic performance and for body building.              
  • Hallucinogens: some are tagged club drugs as they are mostly used in club setting like ecstasy.

You are most likely abusing a drug when you are taking more than the dose prescribed or using a drug not prescribed to you. That could be dangerous. If you or anyone is into drug abuse, you should get to your health care provider for help.

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Ekwoge Hilda

Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.

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