Prescription drug addiction

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:48 pm
Although drug abuse is commonly associated with the use of illegal drugs, a growing number of people are becoming addicted to prescription drugs. Prescription drug addiction tends to be a physical rather than psychological dependence, and painkillers such as barbiturates and tranquilizers are the most frequently abused medicines. In addition to relieving pain, these drugs produce an intoxicating or euphoric effect, which patients often find enjoyable. Since barbiturates and tranquilizers are highly addictive, many will go to great lengths to acquire the medication. Some prescription drug abusers even travel to a number of doctors and pharmacies in different states to obtain the drugs. Since elderly patients are typically prescribed a variety of different medications, they're particularly susceptible to addiction. Often this occurs unintentionally, because medications are accidentally mixed or taken incorrectly, and dependence develops as a result. While addiction to prescription drugs is sometimes overlooked or ignored, it can have serious consequences. Barbiturates and tranquilizers can be fatal when mixed with each other or other depressants, and both can cause a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Treatment of prescription drug dependence is basically the same as treatment for other forms of substance abuse, and may involve a drug rehabilitation center, self-help group, or personal counselor. For more information on prescription drug abuse, consult a health care professional.

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