Prescription Drug Effects

Prescription drugs will be discussed in the three categories primarily used for classifying types, which are:

Opioid medications - Mostly pain relief medications, such as Fentanyl, Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, Demerol, Dilaudid, Morphine and opiate-based drugs, some of which are synthesized by pharmaceutical manufacturers. These drugs operate by suppressing the central nervous system. The immediate effects of opioid medication are drowsiness, constipation, and decreased heart rate and breathing. Dependence on opioid medication is quickly developed.

Benzodiazepine medications - These drugs are frequently used for relieving symptoms of anxiety and to promote sleep. The most commonly used are Ativan, Valium, Xanax and Nembutal. The effects of these drugs can be difficult to detect, as they produce a calming effect that stabilizes highly anxious behaviors, thereby replicating normal responses. However, in some people they will produce symptoms of lethargy, intoxication, slurred speech, slowed responses and drowsiness. One danger seen with these medications is the propensity of mixing them with alcohol and/or other drugs, creating effects that can be deadly. While deemed non-habit-forming, these drugs are highly addictive. Over time, the user requires larger and larger doses to remain at the original setting. These drugs have also been known to create the symptoms they are being taken to treat, such as anxiety and sleeplessness.

Stimulant medications - These are frequently used for purposes of ADHD and to assist dieters in maintaining or beginning weight loss regimens. Used more infrequently than in the past, their probability for dependence is high. Production of euphoric feelings can become habit forming, due to the depressed state experienced when withdrawal occurs. Users will show signs of dependence in weight loss, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, rapid speech and body movements, inability to sit still, and many of the symptoms of ADHD the drug is administered to treat. High blood pressure and hypertension have been caused by overuse of stimulant medications.

How Prescribed Medications Affect Your Body

Pain relief medications work by adhering to receptors in the central nervous system, digestive system, and peripheral nervous system of the user. This action decreases or dulls sensitivity to pain, sensation of pain, and reaction to pain in the body. While these effects are beneficial in the treatment and management of pain, dependence on the drug quickly develops. Then the effects become more pronounced with withdrawal. Persons using and abusing pain medication have developed hyper-sensitivity to pain, an increased reaction to pain, and a lowered threshold to pain, making withdrawal and abstinence a much higher risk.

Anti-anxiety medications work by reducing the activity of nerves in the brain. How the affect these nerves is not yet known. However, it is believed that reduction in activity of the nerves reduces anxiety and restlessness. The drugs operate by increasing impact of the neurotransmitter GABA, (gama-amniobutryic acid), and by decreasing alert signals to other nerve cells. The result is increased relaxation, a greater sense of well-being, and the ability to sleep. Many believe benzodiazepines to be nonaddictive, but they have shown high probability for abuse.

Stimulant medications operate on the central nervous system by increasing the activity generally produced. This produces euphoria in the user and rapid respiration and pulse. The user experiences a sense of tremendous well-being and invincibility. Their speech may become rapid and their demeanor may become tense and high-strung. Movement may be rapid and jerky, showing an inability to stop moving. The mind becomes racy and hyper-alert. These drugs suppress appetite and need for sleep. The euphoric feeling is created by the operation of stimulant medications in creating high levels of dopamine in the CNS.

Long-Term Effects of Taking Prescription Medicines

Chronic and long-term use of opioid medications depresses breathing, which can lead to cessation of breathing, the frequent cause of death by overdose. The dependence developed to opioid drugs is one of the hardest to treat, due to the combined factors of the type of euphoria produced by the drugs and the depression experienced by withdrawal. Those who have used the drugs for pain treatment have found that their pain threshold is so permanently lowered that they require large doses of these drugs to treat painful conditions, usually permanently. In chronic pain circumstances, the user will struggle for effective pain relief. Those who use these drugs for shorter periods find their dependence and tolerance for the drugs happen quickly.

Long-term use of anti-anxiety medications creates the same type of dependence, with greater amounts needed to produce the same effects. Use is designed to be very short term, with other mechanisms being brought into play to replace the drugs for treatment of these conditions, such as therapy, meditation and other interventions.

Stimulant medications will also decrease in effectiveness over time, requiring greater quantities for similar results. These can cause serious damage to the central nervous system; creating permanent brain damage, psychosis and numerous health problems. Use creates heart arrhythmia, trouble with high blood pressure, hypertension and teeth/bone problems. Facial bone structure may collapse, due to teeth grinding in long-term use.

Aftereffects of Prescription Drugs

Aftereffects of prescription medications are alike for all three classifications: Sensitivity to dependence for these drugs is established in the brain of the user by their previous experience with the drug. The more frequent and long-term the use of the medications, the more likely they are to develop (again and again) tolerance and dependence on drugs. The efficacy of the drugs will be lessened by the tolerance, thereby making the medications less likely to work for the same condition(s) thereafter.

Social Effects of Prescription Drugs

Social implications are dependent on the length of time of use of these drugs and the extent of the use/dependence of them. When abused, social consequences are many; hospitalization, legal ramifications (including prosecution and jail), family disturbances and loss, loss of social interaction and isolation. Public behaviors may be scrutinized and deemed inappropriate, as well as inclusion in groups previously enjoyed may be curtailed.