Understanding the Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

One prescription bottle full of pills stands amid several empty prescription bottles that have fallen over. Two white oblong pills sit in the foreground.

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies marketed prescription opioid medications to the medical community as a nonhabit-forming treatment option for chronic and acute pain. Unfortunately, this aggressive (and even fraudulent) marketing strategy led to more and more healthcare providers prescribing what we now know to be highly addictive, prescription drugs to their patients.

Still today, there remains a common misconception that opioids are safe to use with a doctor’s prescription. Even when used correctly as a part of treatment and recovery, the dangers of prescription drugs are very real. In fact, prescription opioids were involved in over 28% of all opioid overdose deaths in 2019. For this reason and more, it’s critical to discuss the risks and benefits when discussing any kind of prescription medication with your doctor.

Preventing prescription drug misuse

Preventing or stopping nonmedical use of prescription drugs is an important part of patient care, and Miramar Recovery Center will partner with your primary healthcare provider to help you overcome your substance use disorder so you can get back to living again. Here are a few ways you can be sure you’re using prescription medications appropriately:

  • Following all instructions as explained by the label or your doctor
  • Being aware of potential interactions with other medications or alcohol
  • Never stopping or altering the dose of medications without checking with your doctor first
  • Never sharing prescription medications with other people and never using another person’s prescription medication
  • Storing all prescription stimulants, opioids, and depressants safely and securely

Commonly prescribed opioids

The most prescribed opioids include the following:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (Percocet®)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

What are the dangers of prescription drugs?

Prescription drugs can be dangerous and even lead to death when taken in high doses or when combined with other prescription medications, certain over-the-counter medications, or even herbal supplements. Just like illicit drugs, prescription drugs have the same ability to increase the risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Even more surprising, tolerance and dependence can develop in a matter of weeks or even days, so it is crucial to use these medications exactly as directed and talk to your doctor at the first sign of tolerance.

Misusing prescription drugs carries serious health risks for a person’s health. For example, misusing prescription opioids can lead to vomiting, mood changes, and a decreased ability to think (to name a few).

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse

The long-term dangers of prescription drug abuse include appetite loss, cognitive (memory) problems, bone loss, digestive issues, poor glucose control, respiratory issues and unintentional weight loss. Additional signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Feeling high (euphoria)
  • Slowed breathing       
  • Decreased blood pressure

Misusing drugs and other substances can have serious effects on your physical health and emotional well-being. It can even change the way your brain functions over time. But with the right treatment and support, you can overcome a substance use disorder.

If you’re looking for safe, effective solutions to prescription drug abuse in a compassionate environment, call Miramar Recovery Center at 949-691-5036 and take the first step toward long-lasting recovery. We provide comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation services. including a comprehensive medical evaluation, medically-assisted detoxification period, medication maintenance, individual therapy, group therapy, and a non-12-step addiction program as well as holistic wellness programs, and several sober activities.


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