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Dangers Of Using Prescription Drugs: Addiction, Overdose and More

Dangers Of Using Prescription Drugs: Addiction, Overdose and More

We were told that a jolly old man lived in the north pole with a population of elves. We were told that a colorful rabbit left eggs full of chocolate everywhere. We were told our baby teeth were taken away in exchange for cash by a faerie. If you grew up in the United States, you were told a lot of things. But while all of those lies are harmless, there is one lie that has been destructive:

“Dangerous drugs come from strangers.”

Similar to how most kidnappings and robberies happen between people who know each other, most dangerous drugs are pushed onto people by sources that they trust. And we do not mean that they come from friends. No, most dangerous drugs are prescription drugs.

Prescription Drugs and the Opioid Crisis

Perhaps you have heard of the “opioid crisis”. In fact, there is a chance that you are experiencing it yourself in one way or another. The opioid crisis is a current event in American history in which millions of people are affected by the mass abuse of prescription opioids.

But how did this come about? Well, it all started in the 1990s. Back then, the United States military was preparing for the Gulf War. They commissioned pharmaceutical companies to develop them a next-generation painkiller to replace the morphine they had been using.

These companies responded by mass-producing huge numbers of Percocet and OxyContin painkillers. Once they got approval to distribute these painkillers from the FDA, pharmaceutical companies began shipping them off to hospitals and pharmacies across the United States.

Soon, the only painkillers available were highly addictive and powerful opioids.

How do Opioids Form Habits?

So, every pharmacy from San Francisco to Miami Beach is carrying opioids. What is so bad about that? What do opioids do to get you addicted? And what is that addiction like?

Let’s start by talking about what opioids are. Because the more accurate name for opioids would be “opioid drugs”. Technically speaking, these painkillers get their name from the opioid receptors in the human nervous system. These receptors receive signals of pain and stress.

The opioid drugs act as painkillers by inhibiting these receptors’ ability to receive these signals. This is oversimplifying a bit, but essentially if the receptors can’t get signals, they can’t feel pain.

What is so Bad About That?

Well, consider what pain does for the human body. Pain is a signal indicating that something is wrong. If you are sitting funny, your body sends pain signals to indicate that your posture is bad. If you have a bullet in you, your body sends you signals telling you to get it out of you.

Of course, it is possible for these signals to become redundant. If you have a bullet wound, then you probably already know you need to sort that out before your body tells you. And if you break your foot, you are probably going to be in pain far longer than is in any way helpful.

Ideally, opioids help you manage chronic pain to keep it from becoming debilitating. But the problem is in the method they use to do that. There are plenty of painkillers that deal with pain in different ways. Even other opioids of lower power will at least not be as habit forming.

The problem comes from how one’s body grows dependent on opioids to function.

How do Opioids Get You Addicted?

When an opioid suppresses the activity of the opioid receptor, it does not actually get rid of the signals that the receptor receives. A better way to think of it is that the signals are a flow of water, and the opioid drugs build a dam to block the flow of those signals.

Once the drugs wear off, however, the dam breaks. All of the signals that were built up during that period of effectiveness are received all at once. And the only way to escape that pain is by taking another dose of the same painkillers. Even then, this only delays the inevitable.

This creates a vicious cycle of taking the opioids to dull pain, but then needing opioids to deal with the side effects of the opioids. Eventually, the user spends all their time either in pain or high off of opioids. It does not take a doctor to see the problem here.

What is Addiction Like?

Opioid addiction is characterized by long periods of numbness and disassociation. Prescription opioid drugs will eventually be replaced with heroin, which is mixed with fentanyl to dilute it.

Addicts can be functional, but the threat of withdrawal makes it difficult for them to hold to obligations or hold down jobs. And of course, there is the constant threat of overdose.

What is Opioid Overdose Like?

Opioid overdose happens when the transmission of signals to the opioid receptors cease so massively and suddenly that the body goes into shock. This is usually characterized by nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, massive loss of balance, and eventually unconsciousness.

If the body does not get external help during this period, the mounting problems caused by the shock of the overdose will eventually result in death. Overdose on drugs, both prescription and otherwise, account for more deaths per year than cars or guns. Overdose is deadly.

But like cars and guns, overdose is also generally preventable. While it is debilitating, there are things you can do to deal with overdose, and it is possible to respond to your own overdose if you act fast. Call 911 if you can and apply Narcan injections if you have it.

Narcan is a drug that blocks the effects of opioids, which can keep the opioids from accidentally shutting down signals to your lungs. If opioids shut down signals to your lungs, you stop breathing and die. So, you cannot allow that to happen.

Prescription drug addiction is an epidemic in the United States, and one of the deadliest killers of Americans. Do not hesitate to ask if you might have a problem:

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