Prescription Drugs (First Get Drug Smart, Then Think Twice)

Posted: May 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
  • Myth: Prescription drugs can’t be dangerous if a doctor prescribes them.
    • Think twice ADHD medications like Adderall can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, psychosis, and seizures if they’re abused; pain medications like Vicodin can cause respiratory depression and arrest, and even death, particularly when combined with alcohol. Learn more.
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Prescription Opioid Abuse Can Lead to Heroin Abuse

You may have heard marijuana referred to as a “gateway drug,” meaning that it can open doors to other kinds of drug abuse. But did you know that prescription painkillers can be gateway drugs to heroin? Some show that people who are addicted to heroin often (opioids), like OxyContin or Vicodin. Not everyone who abuses a prescription opioid will move on to heroin—but why take the risk? It might begin innocently enough—you think that taking a family member’s prescription painkiller is safer than abusing an illicit drug like Ecstasy, and you start using your dad’s prescription to get high. But what if you can’t stop? Prescription painkillers act on the same brain areas as heroin, after all, and can be very addictive. Once the pills run out, what do you do? If you’re addicted, you may look for another source, and sometimes that means buying heroin, a dangerous move, considering the. NIDA’s of teen drug use and attitudes shows that high school students have long seen heroin as one of the most dangerous drugs out there. However, once a person is addicted to prescription painkillers and can’t get them anymore, heroin might not sound like such a bad deal. Both prescription opioids and heroin are extremely hard to stop once a person is addicted. A person trying to quit abusing opioids or heroin usually goes through severe withdrawal, which can cause restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps, and involuntary leg movements. Read more about the dangers of abusing . Curious what could happen if you abuse someone else’s prescription drugs? “Choose Your Path” with NIDA’s . The best part is, if you don’t like your outcome, you can go back and try another path!

Narcotics and prescription drugs account for about of all deaths caused by unintentional poisonings in North Carolina. “Unintentional poisoning” may make you think about small children accidentally taking medicines they find at home, but they make up the smallest fraction of the total—less than 1%! It’s much more likely to happen to a teen or an adult, mostly because of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. In March 2012, the North Carolina Attorney General announced the “. The contest encouraged teens to create brief PSA videos on teen prescription drug abuse. Check out the , selected from over 130 submissions from North Carolina teens in grades 9–12. You can also watch the 10 honorable mention videos on . Homero Plancarte’s video shows how prescription drug abuse can have unexpected effects. The video’s tagline is, “One life, One wrong decision, Prescription drugs kill.” Trevor Belk’s video describes how people usually associate drug abuse with meth labs and street alleys, even though more people in North Carolina die from prescription drug overdoses than any other group of drugs.Carson Banks’ video describes facts related to prescription drug abuse and the arrests and deaths that can result from it. The video is brought together with the tagline, “Life is not a video. There is no rewind.” Is your state, school, or community doing something to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse? If so, what are they doing? To learn more about prescription drug abuse or how you can help spread the word, check out NIDA’s prescription drug abuse awareness campaign for teens, .

A recent episode of the hit TV show “Glee” focused on the problem of underage drinking. Called “Blame It on the Alcohol,” the episode depicted glee club members narrowly avoiding school suspension for drinking on school grounds—never a smart idea! Not only is it illegal to drink before age 21, but drinking too much can impair brain function and motor skills and lead to addiction. Mixing alcohol with illicit or other drugs—even legal ones—greatly increases the dangers: Combining alcohol with another like Xanax or like Vicodin can slow your heartbeat and breathing and may lead to death. Mixing alcohol with like Adderall or club drugs like Ecstasy can cause heart problems, too, as well as strokes and convulsions. that don’t need a prescription can mess you up if you abuse them or combine them with alcohol—once again, heart problems and trouble breathing. Play it safe and don’t mix alcohol with other drugs.

Most people are familiar with taking prescription medications like antibiotics when they get sick. Some people also are prescribed medication to help with a problem like depression or ADHD. Did you know that some (not all) drug actually can be treated with prescription medications, too? It may seem odd that someone addicted to a drug like heroin would start taking another drug so they can stop using heroin. But, shows that some people respond very well to what is called “medication-assisted treatment.” If a person is addicted to an opioid (like heroin or prescription pain relievers), medication can help him or her get back to a better state of mind—beyond just thinking about seeking and using the drug. It also can help ease and cravings, which can give a person who is addicted the chance to focus on changes needed to recover. Taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. It is the same as substituting one addictive drug for another. Used properly, the medication does create a new addiction. Medications to treat opioid addiction (like methadone and buprenorphine) affect the same brain areas as the drugs of abuse they are opposing (like heroin and OxyContin)—but in different ways. Anti-addiction medications “trick” the brain into thinking it is still getting the drug, which stops withdrawal. They help the person feel normal, not high, and reduce drug cravings. Alcohol dependence also may be treated with medication. Three oral medications and one that is injected have been shown to help patients reduce drinking, avoid relapse to heavy drinking, or stop drinking altogether. Of course, these medications aren’t available over the counter at your local pharmacy. They are dispensed at treatment centers or by primary care doctors approved to prescribe them. Medication isn’t the only treatment for opioid or alcohol dependence—adding counseling or therapy can help, and the support of family and friends is often crucial to a person’s success. See NIDA’s new treatment resource, . To learn more about medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, read the brochure,

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Girls and Boys Have Different Reasons for Prescription Drug Use

Help Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse: Ask Mom and Dad To Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet

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