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TIP OF THE MONTH

DECEMBER

Prescription Use – Not Abuse

pre-scrip-tion  \pri-`skrip-shən\ (noun) An instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes a patient to be issued with medicine or treatment.

Prescriptions can be written for countless physical and psychological issues. But because a prescription is written for a specific patient in a specific circumstance, the improper or misuse of the medication could have dangerous and often deadly consequences. The intentional use of medication without a prescription or in a way other than as prescribed is known as prescription drug abuse (NIDA).

Most commonly abused prescriptions are pain relievers, tranquilizers/sedatives, and stimulants. It was found that between 2004 -2008, 97% of emergency room visits were attributed to the involvement of such pharmaceuticals; and in 2009, over 16 million Americans over the age of 12 had taken such pharmaceuticals for nonmedical purposes (DEA & drugabuse.gov). These pharmaceuticals are said to be responsible for more deaths than street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines (DEA).

Pain Relievers – such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Tylenol with Codeine – can be deadly if taken in too high a dose or with alcohol. Respiratory problems, lack of concentration and energy, feelings of nausea and vomiting, and overall apathy can plague these opioid abusers. These drugs act on the same receptors as heroin thus they can be highly addictive (NIDA).

Depressants – such as Ambien, Valium, and Xanax – are common prescriptions for anxiety and panic attacks, tension, stress reactions, sleep disorders and so on. They slow normal brain functions (drugabuse.gov ). And if combined with certain other medications or alcohol, the drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration can be dangerous, with possibilities of coma and death. Many can experience symptoms of withdrawal which could include seizures.

Stimulants – such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall – produce euphoric effects to counteract sluggish feelings but are used to treat a number of body functions like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, respiratory problems, obesity, and so on. When overused or abused, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, high body temperatures, irregular heartbeats, and even seizures (NIDA).

Abuse of prescription medications can be deadly. You run the risk of addiction as well as varying side effects with similar appeal. There are ways to treat these conditions without a prescription and without abusing pharmaceuticals. Herbal remedies have properties to do many of the things that these prescriptions might. However, it is important that you consult a health-care physician when considering herbal treatments; they must consider the effects possible with you and your current medications and current medical state.

It would be more beneficial to just say No, when it comes to the consequences of abusing prescription medicine. In taking them you run the risk of putting an unknown substance in your body that could lead to hallucinations, organ damage, memory loss, addiction, or death. Instead, know what you’re up against; information is a powerful tool, use it. Make sure to inform others; it’s the quickest, safest, and easiest way to keep your friends and family safe. And keep communication lines open; whether you talk with your parents about your stress or you speak with a health-care provider about issues of pain, sleep, or stress – they can’t help you if you don’t tell them.

Seek medical council if you are suffering from any topics covered above; call the Gable Health and Counseling Center at (610) 921-7532 with any questions or for further information.

The above information is compiled from various sources, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drugabuse.gov, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Nicole Kelly, 12

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