PRESCRIPTION DRUGS - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW


What are Painkillers


Commonly abused prescription drugs

How are prescription drugs abused?

How are they obtained?

Signs and Symptoms

Withdrawal Symptoms

Overdose

 

 

What are Painkillers:
Painkillers, or opioids, are drugs that contain, or are derived from and imitate opium.  Morphine derivatives (or “narcotics”) come from opioids and are used to therapeutically treat pain, suppress coughing, alleviate diarrhea, and induce anesthesia.  They are prescribed for pain relief and are only available by prescription.  When used properly under a medical doctor’s supervision, most pain medication is safe and effective.



Commonly abused prescription drugs:
Opioids/narcotics/pain relievers such as Codeine, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Lorcet, Lortab, Morphine, OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, Vicodin, Anti Depressants such as Librium, Valium, Xanax
Stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin



How are prescription drugs abused?
Many of the prescription drugs that are commonly abused are available as tablets. Abusers commonly swallow or chew pills orally, or crush them into a powder, which they then snort. In some instances, abusers dissolve crushed tablets in water and then inject the solution.

Repeated exposure to opioids causes the body to adapt; sometimes resulting in tolerance.  More of the drug is then needed to achieve the desired effect compared with when it was first taken.



How are they obtained?
Doctor shopping - abusers visit several doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions.

Internet –international websites sell drugs without requiring a prescription. Some sites will sell consultations with a doctor who writes prescriptions that buyers can take to local pharmacies.


Prescription drugs occasionally are stolen from pharmacies.

Prescription drug pads are stolen from doctors’ offices.

Young people typically obtain prescription drugs from peers, friends, or family members, or by stealing them from relatives and other individuals with legitimate prescriptions.

Some individuals who have legitimate prescriptions sell or give away their drugs.



Signs and Symptoms
Painkillers can cause drowsiness, inability to concentrate, apathy, lack of energy, feelings of euphoria,  constriction of the pupils, flushing of the face/neck, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and most significantly, respiratory depression.

 


Withdrawal Symptoms
If painkillers are abused over a period of time, withdrawal symptoms become evident when the drug is stopped cold turkey.  Symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, goose bumps, involuntary leg movements, and convulsions, which could lead to death.



Overdose
Signs of overdose include pinpoint pupils, cold and clammy skin, confusion, convulsions, severe drowsiness, and slow or troubled breathing.

Combining prescription drugs or using with alcohol can intensify respiratory distress and lead to death.



If you suspect someone is experiencing a
drug overdose,
call 911 immediately.