A growing problem that is not always taken seriously is Prescription Drug Addiction. Many assume that since a medication was prescribed by a doctor that taking it is not considered addiction. However, many people become addicted to prescription medications while taking them for legitimate reasons and the addiction continues after the condition it was prescribed for is resolved.
What is Prescription Drug Addiction?
Prescription drug addicts use medications for reasons other than those they were originally prescribed to treat. They become dependent on the effects of the drugs to feel better in other ways and will experience the desire for them between doses whether needed for the prescribed symptom or not.
Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction
Some signs that indicate an addiction to prescription drugs include but are not limited to the following:
Having a lack of interest in alternative treatments to medication
Only offering vague descriptions of symptoms to get more medication
Seeing multiple doctors or pharmacies to get more medication
Taking medications for reasons other than the condition for which it was given
Past history of drug addiction
Using more than the prescribed amount of a medication
Using prescription medications that were prescribed for others
What Causes Prescription Drug Dependency?
The effect on the brain of prescription drugs in cases of addiction are the same as those of its illegal counterparts. When a person becomes addicted to prescription medications, upon their use the medication changes the chemistry in the brain which makes it less effective in producing such chemicals as endorphins and dopamine. Therefore since the brain is not producing these chemicals without the medication it is achieved by use of the medications. When the brain reaches this point, the physical addiction has occurred.
Addiction is not intended in prescription medications, it usually starts very innocently. For example, you have injured your ankle and it is very painful. Your doctor prescribes you pain medications to control the pain while it heals. This takes some amount of time and you experience the effects of the medication, noticing it makes you feel better in other ways as well. You continue to take the medications for the pain and other reasons, more often than necessary because of the changes you feel. When you run out of pain medication you return to the doctor for more pain medications even though your ankle has healed to the point that you really do not need it any longer, your body craves it and withdrawing from the medication causes you to feel bad because your brain and body have become dependent on the medications effects.