Addiction to alcohol and illicit drugs has always been spoken about, prescribed medication has remained silent but IS also a frontline addiction..
Addiction to prescription drugs is on the rise in India and across the world.
There are drugs to sleep, there are drugs to wake up, there are drugs to perform, there are drugs for pain , there are drugs to focus in exams , there are drugs to treat various physical ailments which are being abused on a large scale-pain medications, cough syrups etc etc..
There is a chemical maelstrom brewing in the brain and body of a large population of humanity addiction to which is as life threatening as addiction to alcohol and illicit drugs. Even more so as, because as they are “prescription meds” they are thought to be “ safe” and far less harmful.
In the west addiction to prescription drugs are rampant amongst teenagers who hold “Pharm parties” wherein a punch bowl is filled with medicines pinched from the medicine cabinets of their parents. The kids then take turns going to the punch bowl grabbing a fistful of tablets and eating them most times with alcohol. Several times due to the ignorance of the kind of medicines consumed and the drug interactions between them or side effects and the combination with alcohol proves fatal.
Several times Psychiatrists prescribe medications for various disorders and the patient continues on them without a follow up and ends up getting addicted to them.
In Prescription medications addictions the most common classes of drugs involved are:
Opioids [for cough, pain] eg Oxycodone ,Hydrocodone, Codeine cough syrups etc
Central Nervous system depressants [ for anxiety ,sleep disorders] eg alprazolam, diazepam, pentobarbital sodium etc
Stimulants [ ADHD medication etc] eg Methylphenidate[ADHD med] , Amphetamines etc.
Medical consequences of prescription drug abuse include the following.
Opioids can cause an increased risk of choking , low blood pressure, a slowed breathing rate and potential for breathing to stop as they suppress the respiratory center in the brain, or a coma.
Eg.When abused, promethazine-codeine cough syrup presents a high risk of fatal overdose due to its effect of depressing the central nervous system, which can slow or stop the heart and lungs. Mixing with alcohol greatly increases this risk.
Withdrawals from opioids- Restlessness, muscle and bone pains, Insomnis, diarrhea, vomiting, involuntary leg movements.
Sedatives and anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics) can cause memory problems, low blood pressure and slowed breathing. Overdose can cause coma or death.
Abruptly stopping the medication may be associated with withdrawal symptoms that can include hyperactivity of the nervous system and seizures.
Stimulants can cause dangerously high body temperature, heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures or tremors, hallucinations, aggressiveness, and paranoia.
We at Anatta have come across several clients who have been treated with psychiatric medications for their addiction wherein the person afflicted finally uses both the substance of their choice and the prescribed medications thereby ending up with multiple addictions.
We treat these clients non medically after tapering off all their medications incorporating various meditation techniques that are psychotherapeutic along with Counseling and other techniques that take the person within allowing healing to happen.