Most Abused Prescription Drugs, Their Effects and Treatment

Abusing prescription drugs can have devastating effects, which include altering a person’s thinking and judgment, somatic implications, addiction, and in most severe cases fatality. There could be pregnancy related disorders affecting an unborn baby, infectious diseases, and drugged driving cases from prescription drug abuse.

The United States is grappling with the rising incidence of prescription drug abuse, which is threatening to derail the country. It needs a collective effort from all quarters to control the epidemic. And, information is important to tackle the issue. Here, we take a look at some of the most abused prescription drugs, their effects and the treatment options available:

1. Methamphetamine

It is an extremely addictive stimulant drug. Methamphetamine is a white powder commonly available in the forms of tablets and glass like crystals.

Health effects: Short-term effects include increased wakefulness and physical activity, loss of appetite, increased breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and irregular heartbeat. Long-term effects of methamphetamine include anxiety, insomnia, mood problems, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, weight loss, severe dental problems etc.

Treatment options: Regarding medications, there are no FDA approved drugs for methamphetamine addiction. Behavioral therapies for its de-addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, and the 12-Step facilitation therapy.

2. Prescription stimulants: The medications that increase alertness, attention, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate are termed as prescription stimulants. Black Beauties, Crosses, Hearts and LA Turnaround are some of its street names. Adderall and Benzedrine are commercial names of prescription stimulants and are available in capsules and tablets.

Health effects: Short-term effects include heightened alertness, attention, and energy; increased blood pressure and heart rate; narrowed blood vessels; increased blood sugar and opened up breathing passages. Long-term effects of prescription stimulants include heart ailments, psychosis, anger, and paranoia.

Treatment options: Though there are no FDA approved medication for prescription stimulants, behavioral treatment works fine with addicts. Significant improvements can be noticed in the patients addicted to these drugs after behavioral treatment.

3. Synthetic cathinone: Commonly known as bath salts, these are drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, a stimulant found naturally in the khat plant. Bloom, Cloud Nine, Cosmic Blast, Flakka and Ivory Wave are some of its most popular street names. They appear as white or brown crystalline powder and are sold in small plastic or foil packages. At times they are also sold as jewelry cleaner; tablet, capsule, liquid, etc., marked as “not for human consumption.”

Health effects: Higher heart rate and blood pressure, increased sociability and sex drive, paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, psychotic and violent behavior are some of its short-term effects. Long-term health impacts can be breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue; kidney failure and in most severe cases death.

Treatment options: There are no FDA approved drugs for treating synthetic cathinone addiction. Behavioral therapies like CBT, contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) seem to work best for such addicts.

4. Synthetic Cannabinoids: These are a wide variety of herbal mixtures that contain manmade cannabinoid chemicals related to THC in marijuana. However, they are often much stronger and more dangerous. Their marketing is often dubious and misleading by marking them as “synthetic marijuana.” K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bliss, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Fire, Genie and Moon Rocks are some of its most common street names.

Health effects: Although long-term effects are not known for synthetic cannabinoids, the short-term effects include increased heart rate, vomiting, agitation, hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, increased blood pressure and reduced blood supply to the heart and even heart attack.Treatment options: There are no FDA approved medications for treating addiction of synthetic cannabinoids. At the same time, more research is needed to find out if behavioral therapies can be used to treat synthetic cannabinoids’ addiction.

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