When patients have been prescribed medication for pain management following a surgery, an injury, or an illness, they are often unaware of the potential risks of addiction. Even when medications are taken as prescribed, they can be highly addictive and dangerous if abused. As the number of prescription rises, so do the rates of individuals misusing them.
Most commonly, prescription medications affect your brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine. The dopamine gives the user a pleasurable feeling, or “high”, that motivates the person to continue to use the drug. Over time, as the drug is taken compulsively, the person will depend on the drug to feel “normal”.
Many misused prescription drugs alter a person’s judgment and thinking as well as leading to various health risks such as addiction and overdose. It can also lead to addiction to various illicit recreational drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. It is critical for patients to understand the risks associated with prescription medication and take precaution to avoid addiction.
The best way to prevent an addiction to a prescription medication is to be aware of the warning labels and knowledgeable of the medication’s properties. It’s important to avoid the inappropriate use and misuse of any of these medications that may be at your disposal. Using medication that is someone else’s prescription or for purposes aside from its intended use qualifies as misuse.
For those who have a history of addiction, a prescription medication that is potentially addictive should only be used under strict medical supervision. It is most important to be well-informed of the potential risks and qualities of all medications prescribed.