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.

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.

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.

Pill Addiction

Prescription pill addiction is currently one of the most pressing issues. As a result, it’s important to know who is at the most risk of developing an addiction. Being aware of these factors can help you recognize if you or someone you know might be at a higher risk…

Pill Addiction: Who’s At Risk

Those with a presription

It might seem pretty obvious that those who have a pill prescription are also at a high risk of pill addiction. However, it usually depends on what that prescription is for. Chronic pain is the most common reason why someone will get a prescription. It’s also why so many develop additions.

As they continue to take the pills, they build up a tolerance. This leads many of them to take more pills to achieve similar effects. Eventually, this turns into a dependence. Still, doctors are becoming more aware of the risks, and are better monitoring their patients and their pill usage.

Past addictions

Those who have had addictions in the past are also at a higher risk of pill addiction. Any type of past drug addiction increases the odds of a person getting hooked onto pills. This also applies to tobacco and alcohol. Once your body has already developed one type of addiction, it’s easier to develop others.

Genes can also play a factor. Many of those who have developed addictions have a family history of addiction. This is because they’ve inherited genes which place them at a higher risk. In fact, half of a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted is due to their genes.

Young adults

Pill addiction is something that can happen to anyone. But, it’s young adults in particular who have a higher risk and where it’s most common. In fact, 12% of adults ages 18 to 25 have claimed to take pills for non-medical reasons. There’s a few reasons as to why this is.

For starters, young adults are more willing to experiment with different drugs. Many are willing to try something at least once, but that could be enough for them to start developing an addiction. Others will use them for studying or test taking, as some types will boost their ability to focus.

Adderall: Prescription Use and Abuse

Prescription drugs like Adderall can be pretty helpful for those who need them. However, they can also have some risks which are important to know about. Being better informed about drugs like these can help you see why some people might abuse them…

Adderall: What To Watch For

What it does

Adderall is a stimulant that helps improve alertness and productivity. Generally, doctors will prescribe it to help those with attention disorders, like ADHD. However, it may also be used as a form of treatment by those with narcolepsy.

Now, it might seem odd that a stimulant seemingly helps an overactive brain, like with ADHD. Still, the data has shown that the drug does help those with ADHD pay attention, focus, and reduce their impulsive behaviors. In fact, between 75-80% of those taking these pills saw a noticeable improvement!

How it’s risky

The risks with Adderall come from overuse of misuse. As the drug works, it also will release dopamine in the brain. This makes people feel good when they use it. As a result, they might start to take more of it, in order to get more of that rush.

There’s also those who will use it when they shouldn’t. For example, many students report that they’ll take the drug to help them focus or study for tests. Others claim that they like to take it before they party, as they won’t “feel” as drunk as they really are, which is quite dangerous.

Signs to watch for

The signs of Adderall dependency are very similar to those of other drugs. For example, you might feel lie you can’t function properly unless you’ve taken the drug. You might also notice you take it a lot more often, and in higher doses. Things can reach a point where getting more of the drug is more important than working or even eating!

If you’re not careful, then eventually this can lead to issues with the heart, sleeping, and mood disorders. It’s always a good idea to see a doctor if you feel like you’re becoming dependent. That way, you can get the help you need.

Youth Opioid Use

When most people think about the opioid crisis, they imagine it mainly involving adults. However, youth opioid use is also a serious thing. In fact, there’s a few reasons in particular why younger people might start abusing opioids…

Youth Opioid Use: Prevailing Factors

Usage rates

In general, opioid abuse is one of the fastest growing issues in the United States. Sadly, younger people can also abuse these opioids as well. In 2016, 3.6% of those ages 12-17 had reported that they misused opioids. For those who were 18-25, this percentage was twice as high. Most of this misuse is due to prescription pills, rather than alternatives like heroin.

Fortunately, misuse rates are going down, especially for those in high school. For example, among high school seniors, abuse rates peaked in 2004 at 9.5%. By 2018, these rates had been lowered all the way to 3.4%. Still, overdose deaths are an issue; half of the 4,235 youth overdose deaths in 2015 were due to pill abuse.

Risk factors

The risks factors behind youth opioid use are both similar and different to those for adults. Chronic pain is the most common reason for youth abuse, much like with adults. For younger people, usually it’s something like a sports injury which leads to a doctor giving them an opioid prescription.

However, there are also some other unique reasons. Many younger users of opioids reported that they got their pills from close friends or relatives. In fact, those who have family members that abuse opioids are at a higher risk of abuse themselves. Also, there’s school-related factors, as kids who either struggle in school or are bullied are also at a higher risk of abuse.

Preventing abuse

There’s a number of ways to help prevent youth opioid use. For starters, pain management through medication for younger people should be cautious. Doctors have been more receptive to alternative pain treatments rather than just prescribing opioids, in order to help keep these pills out of the hands of younger people.

The home environment also plays a big role. Youth who have strong connections with their parents, and are informed of the risks these pills come with, have much lower rates of abuse. Therefore, parents should also talk to their kids about these pills to help keep them safe.

Opioid Crisis: Understanding the Origins

The opioid crisis is something which people are quite aware of these days. However, not too many people know how exactly it started. After all, things like this don’t just happen overnight. As it turns out, the history behind the crisis helps show exactly why things have gotten out-of-control today…

Opioid Crisis: Tracing The History

The origins

The origins of the opioid crisis start back in the 1990’s. During this time, drug companies were doing a lot of research into potential new painkillers. Mainly, their research was around what we now call opioids. The pitch these companies made to doctors was that these drugs were less or not at all addictive, and had no negative side effects, compared to other drugs like morphine.

This promoting meant a lot of doctors believed they were safe and were now prescribing these drugs to more and more people. Suddenly, you saw a whole lot more people getting prescription opioids. However, eventually it came up that these drugs weren’t just addictive, but highly so. At this point, the crisis we see today was only a matter of time.

How it’s different

Some people are wonder how exactly the opioid crisis differs from previous drugs of the past, like the crack epidemic. Mainly, the big thing is that these drugs are legal. A person could (and still can) go to their doctor and get a prescription of these pills for a wide variety of things. This makes them widely available to nearly anyone, increasing the number of addictions.

Plus, most people aren’t even aware that they’re developing a dependency on the drugs. It’s only once their prescription ends, and withdrawal symptoms set in, that they realize what’s happened. It’s at this point where they may seek out more of these drugs, or even more powerful, illegal drugs like heroin.

What we see today

These days, the opioid crisis is in what researchers call the third wave. The first was the mass prescriptions in the 1990’s, and the second was the rise in heroin use from opioid users in the early 2010’s. However, the third wave is about the recent rise in synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Drugs like these are responsible for the highest rise in opioid-related deaths.

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