Drug addiction to illegal substances is commonly recognised, but it does not have to involve drugs that are illegal. Prescription drug addiction of medications such as painkillers or tranquillisers, is carried out by individuals who have no need of the drugs’ therapeutic effects, but simply use them for the their mood-altering properties.
In 2007, the UN stated that the abuse and trafficking of legal prescription drugs, including stimulants and painkillers, was outstripping virtually all illegal drugs, except cannabis and that the demand was fuelling an international market in counterfeit drugs.
Opiates, stimulants and antidepressants are the most common prescription drugs that are misused.CNS depressants, which are prescribed to treat pain, are opiates and can produce intense feelings of euphoria.Drugs such as codeine, avinza and kadian are among the most commonly abused.Over a period of time the addict’s body becomes tolerant to the drug and higher doses are required to achieve the same effect.
Stimulants are used to treat a number of conditions, including neurological problems, asthma and sometimes obesity.Stimulants function by increasing brain activity, leading to increased alertness and energy levels.These in turn lead to elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
Antidepressants include drugs such as benzodiazepines (Librium and Valium) and barbiturates, such as Nembutal and Mephobarbital.In low doses these drugs work as sedatives, but in higher doses they act as hypnotics.Such prescription drugs are popular amongst younger users, who liken their effects to that of LSD.
Other substances that are commonly abused are steroids, which both men and women use, along with other prescription drugs, often in the pursuit of an improved body image.