The Hidden Dangers of Prescription Medications
The opioid epidemic continues to rage on in America. As it does, the dangers of prescription medications come to light through mounting evidence. Throughout the U.S., opioids, and other prescription medications are routinely abused on a massive scale. All medicines have their dangers; with benzos, sleeping pills, and opiates being some of the worst. Here’s a breakdown of each prescription medication, their specific dangers, and how they can become a problem.
Anxiety Medication and the Dangers of Benzos
People with anxiety typically receive a daily non-habit forming medication. Issues arise when they transition to “as-needed” medications Benzodiazepine (benzos) like Xanax and Klonopin. Anxiety-prone individuals who are not treated correctly are likely to self-medicate. For this reason, it is essential to be in close contact with your doctor, so medication adjustments can be made.
When people have anxiety and it isn’t treated correctly, it is extremely tempting to self-medicate. For this reason, it is essential to be in close contact with your doctor so that medication can be adjusted as necessary.
Always take benzos exactly as prescribed. When taken in excess, benzo abuse can cause:
- Stomach problems and digestive issues
- Amnesia and memory problems
- Lack of coordination
- Excessive sleepiness
- Vision problems
Benzos are highly dangerous to mix with any other substance, especially alcohol. The liver filters alcohol and pills, like Xanax. When consumed at the same time, they cause an overload in the body. When this overload occurs, a person is very prone to overdose, especially if they fall asleep. Xanax and alcohol both depress the central nervous system that easily leads to a person struggling to breathe and eventually stopping. When a person is without breath for a certain amount of time, they go brain dead, slip into a coma, and eventually die.
Sleeping Pill Dependence Dangers
Known as sedative-hypnotics, sleeping pills are a great tool for those who need the pills and use them correctly. Sleep deprivation leads to loss of quality of life, brings down work quality, and even causes accidents, especially when driving or operating heavy machinery.
When consumed excessively or taken for extended time periods, sleeping pills are dangerous. The dangers go way beyond not being able to sleep once a person stops taking them. In a five-year period, nearly 40 million people received Ambien prescriptions, which is one of the most common types of sleeping pills. Doctors often give out the wrong information about there being no danger of addiction when in truth there is.
Just like with benzos, sleeping pills make a person cope better with anxiety. Pill abusers wrongly believe that it is acceptable to consume more pills than their doctor prescribed. They pop pills throughout the day, even though they are specifically meant for nighttime.
In excess, sleeping pill addiction will cause:
- Stomach problems like diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Appetite changes
- Poor circulation and tingling in extremities
- Daytime sleepiness
Akin to benzos, when mixed with alcohol, sleeping pills are very dangerous. Sleeping pills should not be a long-term insomnia solution; just an occasional short-term fix.
U.S.’s Current Struggle with Opiate Addiction
Opioids are undoubtedly the biggest problem America faces regarding prescription pills. This class of drugs includes all prescription pain medication like Vicodin and oxycontin, as well as heroin and fentanyl. America is in the midst of a battle against prescription pain pills. The situation is so prevalent that families and communities are in jeopardy. Formerly, opioid usage was confined to poor, inner-city areas. Regardless of race, wealth, or socio-economic status, it is found in all current communities.
Many people fall into the trap of opioid dependence when they go to their doctor for routine procedures like wisdom tooth removal or to get a script for Vicodin or oxycontin. The same goes for simple surgeries. Doctors give out these prescription medications freely without properly warning users of the potential negative side effects and dependence. These individuals fall into addiction, and when the prescription runs out, they turn to heroin because it is a cheaper and more readily available drug.
Abusing these drugs has many common side effects, including:
- Long-term brain damage
- An unusually high risk for tolerance and dependence
- Liver damage
A person can potentially overdose from any drug in the opioid family, but heroin is notorious for its high overdose rate. This alone is causing rashes of death throughout the country and is the focus of a lot of scrutinies right now. When a number of overdoses happen at once, it is usually because there was a “bad batch” of heroin passed down to the street. These bad batches can contain anything from fentanyl to rat poison and can cause overdose as soon as they are administered.
Every Prescription Carries Risk
No matter what you get a prescription for, it carries some risk. Certain medications are more addictive than others, for example, the three discussed above. Whenever you get a script from a doctor, make sure to discuss exactly what else you are taking. You should also be honest about your daily habits like drinking, smoking, or anything that could impend your routine.
If you have struggled with addiction at any point during your life, it is smart to stay away from any narcotics or addictive medication completely. An addiction to any of them is no joke, and it isn’t worth finding out the hard way. The dangers of prescription medications are too real to take lightly.