What are the Dangers of Prescription Drugs?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 48 million people have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetime (age 12 and older). These statistics are staggering and underscore the need for greater awareness of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. Medications like Xanax and Percocet are commonly prescribed for conditions such as anxiety and pain relief. However, these medications can be incredibly dangerous if they are abused or not used as directed. Even more lethal are prescribed opioid medications, like Oxycontin, which are highly addictive even if used as directed, not to mention if they are abused. While it’s vitally important to take prescribed medications that are necessary for your health, doing so with a greater awareness of the dangers and risks of taking prescription drugs may just save your life. It’s also important to stay informed on methods of guarding against prescription medication misuse and addiction. 

What Are the Risks of Abusing Prescription Drugs?

When taken in larger doses or longer than prescribed, or if combined with other substances, prescribed medications can be damaging to your body and even fatal. There are a number of risks associated with abusing prescription drugs.  

are prescription medications safe

Organ damage: A serious risk associated with prescription drug abuse is organ damage. Many prescription medications put a strain on your internal organs such as your heart, liver, and kidneys. This can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and over time, this strain can lead to organ damage or failure. If you’re pregnant, using and abusing prescription drugs can put your baby at risk for a number of health problems. Talk to your doctor about the potential risks of taking a prescribed medication before you start. If you have a history of substance abuse or addiction, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks before taking any prescription medication.

Drug addiction: When not taken as directed, certain medications can become addictive. This means that you may find yourself taking more and more of a medication in order to achieve the desired effect. You also may start to feel withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking the medication, leading to nausea, sweating, shaking, and anxiety. If you find yourself struggling to quit taking a prescription drug, it’s important to seek professional treatment.

Overdose: One of the most serious risks associated with prescription drug abuse is overdose. An overdose happens when you take too much of a drug or medication and your body is unable to process it properly. Symptoms of overdose include slurred speech, confusion, vomiting, shallow breathing, and possibly death. The CDC reports that from 1999 to 2020, more than 263,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids in the U.S. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any medication you are prescribed and weigh the benefits against the risks. If you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose, it’s vital to call 911 immediately.

Ways to Guard Against Becoming Addicted to Prescription Medication

If you take prescription drugs, there are a few ways to make sure you do not become addicted

  • It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Do not increase your dosage or take it more often or for a longer period of time than prescribed. 
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or using other substances while taking prescription medications. Alcohol and other medications or illegal drugs can negatively interact with your prescription, leading to sickness or even death.
  • Discuss medication options with your doctor. If you’re concerned about the medication your doctor is prescribing or about becoming addicted to your medication, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication that has a lower risk of addiction or give you tips for avoiding addiction.
  • If you think you might be addicted to your medication, seek help from a medical professional right away. There are many resources available to help you overcome addiction and live a healthy life.

Get Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

The risks associated with abusing prescription drugs are real and potentially life-threatening. If you take prescription drugs, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and be aware of the signs of addiction. If you think you or someone you know might be addicted to a prescription drug, there is help available. 
A quick and easy method of testing if you’re addicted or at risk to become addicted to prescription drugs, is to take our 100% free SBIRT survey. Simply answer a few questions online and the SBIRT tool will let you know if you need to seek treatment, as well as offer nearby locations for the specific treatment you need. Click now to take the SBIRT quiz and don’t hesitate to reach out for support today!