RECREATIONAL use of prescription drugs is a serious problem with teens and young adults. Of late it has become evident in our communities nationwide that it is more likely that a teen has abused a prescription drug than an illegal street drug.
Many teens and young adults think prescription drugs are safe because they are prescribed by doctors and their ignorance in the subject has led to the increased cases of abuse of mood stabilisers, depressants and stimulants, as they self-medicate to get their high.
We see the effects of the psychiatric medication and cough mixture daily on the youths and their behavioural tendencies after taken them.
There are very serious health risks in taking prescription drugs, that is why they are taken under the care of a doctor, and even then they have to be monitored to avoid addiction or other related problems.
Many pills look the same; it is extremely dangerous to take any pill that you are uncertain about or was not prescribed to you. People can also have different reactions to drug due to the differences in each person’s body chemistry.
A drug that was okay for one person could be very risky, even fatal for someone else.
Prescription drugs are only safe for the individuals who actually have the prescriptions for them and no one else.
Many illegal street drugs were at one time used or prescribed by doctors or psychiatrists but were later banned when the evidence of their harmful effects were discovered.
Examples are heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and Ecstasy.
Abuse of prescription drugs can be even riskier than the abuse of illegally manufactured drugs. The high potency of some synthetic (man-made) drugs available as prescription creates an overdose risk. This is true of OxyContin and similar painkillers.
Many people don’t realise that distribution or selling prescription drugs other than by a doctor is a form of drug dealing and is illegal as selling cocaine and heroin.
Prescription drugs used for recreational use include the following categories:
Depressants — often referred to as central nervous system depressant, these drugs slow the brain function, these include sedatives and tranquillizers.
Opioids and morphine derivatives generally referred to as painkillers used to relieve pain.
Stimulants a class of drugs intended to increase energy and alertness but which also increase blood pressure, heart rate and breathing
Antidepressants are psychiatric drugs meant to handle depression.
Despite their class when abused these drugs lead to addiction or death.
l Mthandazo Ndlovu is a drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist. For more information and help call or WhatsApp +263772399734 or email [email protected]