Have you ever misused a prescription? Maybe your back hurt and you took your friend’s painkiller. Or you used someone else’s Ritalin to help you study. Using a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor is prescription drug abuse. This could be using your own prescription without following the directions, or using someone else’s prescription. Commonly misused prescriptions are opioids, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and stimulants. In 2015, 7% of Vermont adults had ever misused a prescription medication. This rate was similar for any income (Vermont Department of Health).
People misuse prescription drugs for many reasons. Abused prescription drugs can activate the brain's reward center. This can cause physical dependence and addiction. Physical dependence (tolerance) is the body's response to long-term use. Tolerance means over time more drug is needed to feel the same effect. There may be withdrawal symptoms if the drug is stopped. Addiction happens when a person uses a drug even though it reduces their quality of life.
It is important to use prescription drugs the right away. These tips can help reduce misuse and abuse. Never use another person’s prescription. Always follow the directions from the doctor or pharmacist. If ordering online, only use a trustworthy pharmacy. Lock prescriptions in a safe place. Properly dispose of unused or expired medications.
Consider alternatives to prescription medication. Your doctor can help you decide if over-the-counter medications or physical therapy are options instead of prescription opioids. Exercise, weight loss, acupuncture or massage may be other possibilities. Some alternatives may work better for you. They also have fewer risks and side effects.
If you or someone you know needs help getting into treatment, or if you just have questions visit: http://www.healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drug-abuse/how-get-help/find-treatment
Not sure where to start? Get free, confidential help 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or visit vermont211.org
The Partners for Prevention is a community network dedicated to sustainable substance abuse prevention efforts for Rutland County youth and young adults. Stay connected by liking the Partners for Prevention on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/partnersforprevention