Self-Medicating: Why It’s Dangerous

There’s a lot of reasons as to why someone may use drugs or alcohol. Perhaps one of the most common reasons is when people are self-medicating.  While they may think that they’re helping themselves, they could be doing more damage in the long run…

Self-Medicating: Potential Risks

Why self-medicate?

When someone is self-medicating, it means they’re trying to use alcohol or another drug to offset a problem they’re having. These issues can be both physical and psychological. For instance, someone could try and self-medicate to handle an injury they have. Or, they may do so in an effort to feel better when they feel depressed on anxious.

This process also tends to be “easier” for them than seeking professional help. Instead of going to a doctor or specialist, they can just buy their drink or drug of choice. For them, the faster “relief” they get makes it more advantageous in their eyes.

Possible dangers

Of course, self-medicating is certainly not a safe choice. For starters, there’s a very high risk of accidentally taking a dangerous dosage. Many people who self-medicate end up taking high amounts in order to try and “amplify” the relief. In turn, they can easily overdose and develop an addiction.

Plus, it could be that these efforts are actually making things worse. Long-term substance abuse can lead to a wide variety of health issues. Withdrawal symptoms in particular can really be hard to deal with when you can’t satisfy your cravings. Dealing with those symptoms and your previous ones at the same time can be a very hard thing to manage.

Getting help

If you worry that you’re self-medicating, there’s a few things you should reflect on. First, consider what sort of substances you’re taking, why you’re using them, and how much you’re taking. Should you realize that your usage may be an issue, then you can start to make some good changes.

In particular, you’ll want to seek some professional help. Discussing things with your doctor can help you realize what exactly is going on. They can also provide you with resources to help you get the right kind of treatment that you need.

Substance Abuse Misconceptions

Like with many things, there’s a lot of substance abuse misconceptions out there. Unfortunately, these misunderstandings can make it harder to understand substance abuse and its treatment. Therefore, it’s key to know what the realities are…

Substance Abuse Misconceptions: What’s The Facts?

Rates of abuse

People are more aware of how dangerous things such as opioids are now more than ever. Still, they may not fully grasp the extent of this ongoing crisis. That’s why one of the most common substance abuse misconceptions is related to just how many people struggle with this kind of addiction.

In the U.S., nearly 21 million people over the age of 12 have a substance abuse disorder. That’s nearly the same as the amount of people who have diabetes in the country! This number doesn’t even include those who struggle with binge or heavy drinking, which researchers estimate to include over 30% of those over the age of 12.

Misuse vs. abuse

Other substance abuse misconceptions are related to the supposed difference between misuse and abuse. A lot of people believe that they might mean different things. However, they actually both refer to the same kind of general addiction and improper use of drugs and alcohol.

However, according to the Surgeon General, only 10% of Americans who need treatment for their abuse actually get it each year. A large part of this is because of the stigma behind “abusing” a drug. Misuse is not as “harsh” as abuse, which is why you’ll see many places use the former instead of the latter.

Uptick in overdoses

In a lot of the news out there, it seems that rates of overdoses have been increasing. This in turn has given rise to new substance abuse misconceptions. In reality, the truth is a bit more complex than just more people overdosing on their own.

Instead, what’s been seen is that these overdoses are a side-effect of efforts to crack down on the illicit sale of prescription pills. Back in the 1990’s, doctors prescribed these pills at high rates, making them easily available. Now, authorities have been cracking down on these doctors, along with makers of “imitation” pills. While this has led to less pills being available, it’s also caused many to turn to heroin in an effort to get their high, which then leads to these overdoses.

Elderly Substance Abuse: Common Causes

Most people assume that its mainly young and middle-aged adults who have to deal with substance abuse the most. However, elderly substance abuse is actually a rapidly growing issue. In fact, there’s a few reasons as to why older adults in particular may develop an addiction…

Elderly Substance Abuse: Why It Happens

Multiple prescriptions

One factor behind elderly substance abuse is just how many prescriptions an older adult may have. As a person gets older, they may find they need multiple prescriptions to help them manage their needs. Over time, this can quickly become overwhelming.

Having so many prescriptions can cause a person to easily lose track of their intake. As a result, they may end up accidentally taking more than they should be. In turn, they develop an addiction and will take their prescription whenever they crave it.

Health issues

Health issues are also a common reason behind elderly substance abuse. It’s pretty common for people to develop new health problems and see previous ones worsen as they age. This is why they may end up having so many prescriptions, as they’ll all try and treat each specific issue.

Due to these issues, an older adult might try and take more of their prescription than they should in order to try and feel better. However, this tends to cause more issues for them, most notably an addiction. It could also be the case that issues with memory could cause them to accidentally take higher doses, as they forget when or if they’ve already taken their medication.

Life changes

Getting older comes with a number of life changes, which can be hard to deal with. For instance, many people find themselves unable to do thing they had no issue with before, such as working or driving. It could be the case that they may also be unable to live on their own, instead requiring assistance and needing to move to a new living facility.

It can be a struggle to cope with these changes, especially after years of independence. This is why they may try to deal with their stress and sadness by using their medication. The temporary high they get from taking higher doses can make them “feel better”, even though it’s just causing them more problems in the long run.

Oxycontin: Prescription Pill Abuse

Opioid painkillers are some of the most frequently abused pills. Of these pills, Oxycontin stands out as a very popular choice. This popularity is also part of what makes this drug so dangerous when misused…

Oxycontin: Right & Wrong Use

Rise to popularity

Much like any other drug, Oxycontin wasn’t that popular at first. The original version of the drug, oxycodone, was first created in Germany in 1916. Scientists wanted this drug to be a safer form of pain management than morphine or heroin. Eventually, in 1939, oxycontin was selling in the American market.

However, the drug failed to take off in the U.S. for decades. It wouldn’t be until 1996, when Oxycontin itself was created, that it became popular. In fact, by 2001, it would become the best-selling painkiller in the nation. This popularity soon gave way to the dangers of the drug.

Issues with usage

A large part of why Oxycontin was and still is popular is because of how effective it is. Opioid painkillers are very effective at treating pain. Therefore, many doctors will prescribe it for those who have to deal with chronic pain in their lives, especially after injuries. The drug is also an “extended-release” type, which means it provides a longer lasting feeling of pain relief.

Of course, the problem with drugs like this is how addictive they are. People can easily develop an addiction, even if they take them correctly. Many doctors accidentally made this issue worse by how often they gave out prescriptions early on. However, this was due to drug companies claiming their pills weren’t addictive.

Side-effects and safety

Oxycontin does come with side-effects which are important to know about. Some which tend to pop up include dizziness, sleeping problems, digestive issues, and nausea. Breathing problems can also occur, which are especially dangerous for those with asthma.

The best way to stay safe is by following the directions your doctor gives you and watch your intake. It’s very easy for your usage to slip out of control. If you feel your intake is getting out of hand, stop taking the pills and meet with your doctor to discuss what you can do.

Opioid Abuse Behavior: Common Indicators

It can be a bit easy to tell when someone has had too much to drink. However, noticing opioid abuse behavior can be a lot trickier. However, there are a few common indicators which can help you see if someone is abusing their pills…

Opioid Abuse Behavior: Noticeable Signs

Sudden mood swings

One example of opioid abuse behavior can be sudden mood swings. You may notice that at first, this person appears to be pretty spaced out and relaxed. Then, they’ll suddenly become irritated and get angry at everyone. Or, they could go from being happy and motivated to depressed and with no motivation.

This could be a result of the dopamine opioid pills release. This high can make a person feel very happy or relaxed while it lasts. Yet when it wears off, they can suddenly find themselves crashing and doing a total reversal. If you know the person in question has some kind of prescription, then this could be a sign there’s some misuse going on.

Secrecy and dishonesty

Another common example of opioid abuse behavior is when someone acts very shady. They may not want to share personal info with you or those close to them because they want to hide their abuse. Due to this, they’ll try and make up excuses as to why they can’t go do thing or why you can’t come over. They may even spend nearly all their time inside and away from others.

Even if you present them with evidence of their misuse, they may still try to deny it. For example, you could find a lot of empty pill bottles scattered around their house or car. However, when you ask them about it, they’ll try and make some excuse. The reality is that they’re probably abusing their pills.

Constant pill taking

Of course, one of the most apparent forms of opioid abuse behavior is when someone is constantly taking pills. Usually, most people will take their prescriptions when they’re at home, before going out. Sometimes, if they’re out for a while, they’ll bring their prescription just in case. That way, they can take a new dose when it’s time.

For someone who is abusing their pills, they’ll bring them pretty much everywhere. They may constantly come up with excuses to go somewhere for a moment in order to take them. It could be that they reach a point where they take them whenever they want. This is a pretty clear sign that their intake has gotten out of control.

Taking Opioids: When It’s Dangerous

Many people are aware that long-term opioid use can lead to health issues. However, there are some specific times where taking opioids, even in normal doses, should be avoided. Not doing so could result in some serious problems…

Taking Opioids: Dangerous Situations

When pregnant

It’s important to avoid taking opioids while pregnant. Remember that with a pregnancy, you aren’t just “eating” for two now. Everything you drink or take is going to impact your baby. This includes opioid pills.

Like with alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs, opioids can really negatively impact a developing child. For instance, it could cause you baby to develop an addiction. It may also lead to birth defects. That’s why it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about what is or isn’t safe to take.

When taking other pills

You also need to be careful about taking opioids if you have other prescriptions. Many people have different prescriptions for different health issues. It’s easy to assume that it’s okay to add something like opioids into the mix. However, this may not be the case for you.

Certain types of pills won’t mix well with others. They could cause some serious negative side-effects to occur. In some cases, these side-effects can be dangerous to your health. Be sure you tell your doctor what medicine you’re taking already, so they can see what you should avoid taking.

When drinking

Taking opioids while drinking alcohol is never a good idea. Mixing opioids with alcohol is a very dangerous combination which could even be fatal. The effects of opioids, combined with the depressive impact of alcohol, can place a lot of serious strain on the heart, lungs, and liver.

Therefore, you want to make sure you have no opioids in your system before you drink. Many prescriptions will tell you how long you should wait to drink after you take your dosage. Still, some people will just forgo drinking altogether while on their prescription.

Frequently Abused Pills

Prescription pill addiction is an ever-pressing issue in this day and age. However, some people tend to abuse certain pill types over others. At first, these frequently abused pills may seem different. However, nearly every prescription can become dangerous if you fail to take it properly…

Frequently Abused Pills: A Dangerous Habit

Sedatives

One of the frequently abused pills out there are sedatives. There’s three different main types of sedatives which are available depending on a person’s needs. But, each type tends to address similar issues of anxiety, panic attacks, and issues with sleep.

Usually, abuse of these pills will start because of the relaxing and calming effect they create. In order to keep this feeling going for longer, people will start to take either more pills throughout the day. Abusing sedatives can cause serious issues with memory, the nervous system, and one’s ability to breathe. In the most extreme cases, it could even cause comas!

Stimulants

Stimulants are also another kind of frequently abused pills. Unlike sedatives, which relax a person, stimulants provide them extra energy. Usually, doctors will prescribe these pills to help with attention disorders such as ADHD. It might seem a bit odd, but research does show these pills do help those with these disorders focus.

The reason other people might abuse stimulants is because they boost dopamine levels in the brain. They’ll also take them for the energy boost they provide, which is why many students will abuse them. Some people even use them to try and lose weight! However, abuse can lead to high body temperatures and heart attacks.

Opioids

Of course, opioids are perhaps the most frequently abused pills these days. After all, they’re both very powerful, and have been widely available for a long time. While doctors are cutting back on how much they prescribe opioids, these pills still see use for treating things such as chronic pain.

Due to just how powerful opioids are, this makes them very addictive as well. Even if someone takes these pills as intended, it’s still very possible for them to develop a dependency. Some side effects of addiction can include depression and digestive problems.

Fentanyl: A Hidden Danger

People these days are more aware of the dangers opioids present than ever before. However, at this point in the crisis, there are new things people must worry about, such as fentanyl. This drug can be quite dangerous and hard to spot if you aren’t careful…

Fentanyl: Understanding the Opioid Crisis

What is it?

Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid which doctors use as a painkiller. Compared to morphine, this drug is 50 to 100 times more powerful. Due to this, doctors tend to only give it to those suffering from high amounts of pain, such as after surgery. They may also give it to those with a very high tolerance to other opioids.

Doctors may prescribe fentanyl, but it isn’t a common occurrence. Plus, it also doesn’t come in a pill form. Instead, you can take it through a shot, a patch placed on your skin, or a lozenge, which is closer to a cough drop than a pill.

Illicit copies

Regular fentanyl poses many of the same risks as other opioids. However, the main risk these days comes from illicitly-made fentanyl. Due to how powerful it is, drug dealers who can’t access opioids otherwise try to make their own to sell. It’s this illicitly-produced version which is responsible for the rise in many opioid-related overdoses.

The problem is that these versions have no kind of quality control, which makes them even more dangerous than their normal counterpart. Many makers of this version also don’t know how much is a “safe” dosage, causing people to overdose by mistake. In fact, some dealers have begun to put fentanyl in other drugs to increase their potency, further increasing the risk of an overdose.

Steps to take

Being safe with fentanyl is very similar to being safe with other opioids. In particular, you should watch how much you take, and be aware of when you may be forming a potential addiction. Also, never take any kind of prescription drug which doesn’t come from your pharmacist.

It’s also good to know what you should do if you suspect someone is overdosing. With how strong fentanyl is, you should be sure to call 911 as soon as you can. Make sure to also stay with the person overdosing until help arrives.

Opioid Health Risks: Short & Long-Term

Opioids, much like alcohol, can have some negative impacts on your overall health. Still, not too many people are aware of what negatives look like. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of opioid health risks. That way, you can know what to watch for…

Opioid Health Risks: What To Know

Confusion and drowsiness

Confusion and drowsiness are some common short-term opioid health risks. Opioids mainly take effect inside our brains. This is because the drugs target special receptors for pain relief. The opioids mimic the natural pain relieving chemicals our body makes, which reduces pain and creates a feeling of calmness.

However, this process can also lead to some unintended, but common side effects. Feelings of confusion and drowsiness are some of the most common which people experience. Due to this, many prescriptions will state that you should avoid doing things like driving while under the influence of opioids just in case.

Addiction and withdrawal

Perhaps the biggest of the opioid health risks is addiction. Opioids are highly addictive, and many times people don’t even realize when an addiction is starting. Usually, this starts slowly by them building a dependence. Before they realize it, they need to take opioids in order to even function normally.

Once this dependence has started, it can be very hard to break it. Mainly, this is because of the withdrawal symptoms.Things like anxiety, nausea, irritability, and muscle pains are just some of the most-common symptoms. For some people, these symptoms are enough to make them continue taking opioids instead of trying to get clean.

Other addictions

Another of the opioid health risks to be aware of are how an opioid addiction can lead to other ones. Once someone develops an addiction, they’ll struggle if they can’t renew their prescription. This can leave them looking for some kind of alternative.

Due to how powerful opioids are, these people will try and find something which matches it. Usually, this leads them to dangerous drugs like heroin. Recently, counterfeit pills have also been growing in popularity. However, these pills tend to be poorly made, and lead to a lot of accidental deaths.

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