Most people take medicines only for the reasons their doctors prescribe them. But an estimated 20 percent of people in the United States have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. This is prescription drug abuse. It is a serious and growing problem.
Abusing some prescription drugs can lead to addiction. You can develop an addiction to:
- Narcotic painkillers
- Sedatives and tranquilizers
Experts don’t know exactly why this type of drug abuse is increasing. The availability of drugs is probably one reason. Doctors are prescribing more drugs for more health problems than ever before. Online pharmacies make it easy to get prescription drugs without a prescription, even for youngsters.
How to Identify Unknown Pills:
Pillbox was developed to aid in the identification of unknown solid dosage pharmaceuticals. The system combines high-resolution images of tablets and capsules with appearance information (imprint, shape, color, etc.) to enable users to visually search for and identify an unknown solid dosage pharmaceutical.
This system is designed for use by emergency physicians, first responders, other health care providers, Poison Control Center staff, and concerned citizens.
The system enables users to identify solid dosage forms based on physical criteria: imprint (characters or number printed on a medication), shape, color, size, and scoring. Users are shown thumbnail images of possible matches. These images are continually updated as the user enters additional information.
- Visit the Pillbox to check the pills in your family medicine cabinet.
- Find any surprises?
An opioid is one of a category of drugs that includes heroin, morphine, methadone, and codeine. Opioids have analgesic properties; that is, they decrease pain. Humans have an endogenous opioid neurotransmitter system—the body makes small quantities of opioid compounds that bind to opioid receptors reducing pain and producing euphoria. Thus, opioid drugs, which mimic this endogenous painkilling mechanism, have an extremely high potential for abuse. Natural opioids, called opiates, are derivatives of opium, which is a naturally occurring compound found in the poppy plant. There are now several synthetic versions of opiate drugs (correctly called opioids) that have very potent painkilling effects, and they are often abused. For example, the National Institutes of Drug Abuse has sponsored research that suggests the misuse and abuse of the prescription pain killers hydrocodone and oxycodone are significant public health concerns (Maxwell, 2006). In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended tighter controls on their medical use.
Historically, heroin has been a major opioid drug of abuse (Figure). Heroin can be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously. Like the stimulants described earlier, the use of heroin is associated with an initial feeling of euphoria followed by periods of agitation. Because heroin is often administered via intravenous injection, users often bear needle track marks on their arms and, like all abusers of intravenous drugs, have an increased risk for contraction of both tuberculosis and HIV.
Aside from their utility as analgesic drugs, opioid-like compounds are often found in cough suppressants, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrhea medications. Given that withdrawal from a drug often involves an experience opposite to the effect of the drug, it should be no surprise that opioid withdrawal resembles a severe case of the flu. While opioid withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant, it is not life-threatening (Julien, 2005). Still, people experiencing opioid withdrawal may be given methadone to make withdrawal from the drug less difficult. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is less euphorigenic than heroin and similar drugs. Methadone clinics help people who previously struggled with opioid addiction manage withdrawal symptoms through the use of methadone. Other drugs, including the opioid buprenorphine, have also been used to alleviate symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
Codeine is an opioid with relatively low potency. It is often prescribed for minor pain, and it is available over-the-counter in some other countries. Like all opioids, codeine does have abuse potential. In fact, abuse of prescription opioid medications is becoming a major concern worldwide (Aquina, Marques-Baptista, Bridgeman, & Merlin, 2009; Casati, Sedefov, & Pfeiffer-Gerschel, 2012).
Medications can be effective when they are used properly, but some can be addictive and dangerous when abused. Some prescribed medications that – when used in ways or by people other than prescribed – have the potential for adverse medical consequences, including addiction.
In 2010, approximately 16 million Americans reported using a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons in the past year; 7 million in the past month.
After marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications account for most of the commonly abused drugs.
Three types of drugs are abused most often:
- Opioids—prescribed for pain relief
- CNS depressants—barbiturates and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or sleep problems (often referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers)
- Stimulants—prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the sleep disorder narcolepsy, or obesity.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medication, especially if you are unsure about its effects.
- Keep your doctor informed about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications.
- Read the information your pharmacist provides before starting to take medications.
- Take your medication(s) as prescribed.
- Keep all prescription medications secured at all times and properly dispose of any unused medications.
Your healthcare provider is the best source of information about the right medicines for you.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of a wide range of products, including human prescription drugs. We also advance public health by helping people get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines appropriately and improve their health. Prescription drug advertisements can provide useful information for consumers to work with their health care providers to make wise decisions about treatment.
Source: FDA, http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm071964.htm
The FDA serves the public health and welfare in many ways. One way is overseeing the approval and marketing of prescription drugs. It’s authority is based on a number of federal laws, including the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Among other areas, this law specifically addresses prescription drug advertising. This law requires that advertisements for prescription drugs be accurate and not misleading.