Prescription drug abuse and addiction are on the rise. This is particularly true of opioids, which can give the user a “high” when they are taken along with muscle relaxers or benzodiazepines. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those addicted to prescription drugs got them from a friend or family member. Sometimes, the person giving away the painkiller is doing it to be nice, not realizing the dangers of taking someone else’s prescription. Other times, they have no idea that their medicine cabinet is being raided.
When taken properly, prescription pain-killers are a useful tool that can bring great relief to those who are suffering. It is important that certain steps are taken to prevent prescription drug addiction.
1.) Follow Directions Carefully
When a potentially addictive prescription drug is called for, both the doctor and the pharmacist generally give the patient very specific directions for how it should be used. It is important to take the medication only as often as directed and to be careful what else you are taking at the same time. Many pain-killers should not be mixed with alcohol, for example. Due to how powerful some of these drugs are, it is never a good idea to stop taking them or to change your dosage without consulting your doctor.
It is also important to closely monitor behavior the first few days someone begins a medication. They may become more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as mixing their medication with their pain-killer, due to the way the pain-killer is impacting their brain. It takes the body a few days to fully adjust to a new medication.
Not only do people have a responsibility to prevent their own addiction to prescription drugs, but they also need to keep them out of the hands of others that would abuse them. If at all possible, prescriptions should be locked up. They should always be stored out of children’s reach and put in a container with a child-resistant lid. It is important to keep track of your medications. If you know how many pills you should have, it is easy to tell if someone is taking them.
3.) Dispose of Prescription Drugs Properly
It is never a good idea to just throw out prescription drugs. Some medications come with specific disposal instructions. If that is not the case, the pills should be removed from the container and mixed in with other trash. Whenever possible, mix the pills with substances that people would not want to dig through, such as used kitty litter. There is also a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day held once a year.
4.) Never Share or Save Prescription Drugs
Although people often give away their prescription pain-killer with nothing but good intentions, they can be unknowingly enabling an addict. A prescription is written with a person’s specific weight, health, and history in mind. What is a useful drug for one person can cause dangerous side effects and interactions in another. This means not only should an individual not share their own, but they should also never accept a prescription drug from someone else.
Many people save prescription drugs in case they need them later. This can lead to them being taken and abused. They also may not be an appropriate treatment for “next time.” Always properly dispose of your extra medications.
5.) Always Be Up Front with Your Doctor
In order to properly prescribe medication, a doctor needs to fully understand the patient’s medical history as well as their symptoms. This can not only help prevent drug interactions, but it can also stop prescription drug addiction. For example, someone who used to struggle with alcohol or street drugs may not be prescribed an opioid. Other, less-addictive, treatment options would be explored instead. A doctor can only help their patient as much as they will allow them to.
When their directions are followed carefully and they are stored and disposed of properly, prescription drugs are immensely helpful. Taking a few precautionary steps can help prevent prescription drug abuse and keep everyone healthy and happy.
For more information on prescription drug addiction, have a look at this page: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/prescription-drug-addiction/