These are the prescription drugs that are on the rise in the UK: who’s abusing them?
Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem across the UK. There is a mistaken belief that this type of substance abuse is somehow less dangerous than other forms of addiction, but this is a myth – prescription drug dependency can be just as dangerous as addiction to street heroin. Here are nine of the most abused prescription drugs in the UK:
Codeine is commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of pain. Despite the fact that this is an opiate (in the same class as heroin), it is possible to buy certain tablet forms of this drug in the UK without a prescription – so long as it is less than 100 mg. Higher strength codeine is legally controlled, and it is against the law to possess it without a prescription from a doctor.
Users can begin to abuse Codeine because of its pleasant side effects. This drug can help people to relax, creating a feeling of euphoria and well-being when taken in high doses. When individuals abuse codeine, they are at high risk of addiction. This drug can also be a real threat to health because it can damage body organs and, potentially, trigger cardiac arrest; it is also possible to die due to a codeine overdose.
Oxycodone is now the most abused prescription drug in the United States where it is often referred to as ‘hillbilly heroin’ and it is rapidly gaining in popularity in the UK as well. Oxycodone is a synthetic form of morphine; it is double the strength of standard morphine, which is why it is so dangerous.
Oxycodone creates similar effects to heroin, meaning that the user feels as if they are not only escaping physical pain but all types of emotional pain as well; users describe it as similar to being wrapped in cotton wool. This drug has already lead to hundreds of deaths in the US, and there have been a few recent deaths in the UK as well; unfortunately, more deaths are expected.
Morphine is legally controlled in the UK as a class ‘A’ drug, but it is commonly used in the treatment of severe pain. This is another opiate drug, originating from the poppy plant. It is not necessary for individuals to use this drug long before developing an addiction; this is why the use of this substance needs to be carefully controlled.
The reason morphine is such an addictive substance is that it causes such pleasant side effects, including sensations of deep relaxation and feelings of extreme well-being. This substance is toxic to the body and mind, and the withdrawal symptoms experienced when trying to give up this substance are severe.
Ritalin is most commonly used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, and is very similar to amphetamine (speed). It works by stimulating the central nervous system. The main reason this drug is abused is that it gives the taker ‘energy’, allowing them to stay awake for up to days at a time. Ritalin can be a very dangerous drug when abused because it can lead to loss of weight, insomnia, paranoia, and damage to body organs.
Diazepam is a type of drug known as a sedative. It can be used for a number of purposes, including treating anxiety, helping individuals cope with alcohol withdrawals, and treating seizures. Many abuse this substance because they enjoy the groggy feeling produced by the drug; it is similar to being drunk. Many people who abuse diazepam also mix it with alcohol, making it even more dangerous. Those abusing diazepam can begin to suffer mental problems such as memory loss; it can also lead to coma and, eventually, death.
Hydrocodone is another drug that is used in the treatment of pain, but it can also be used as a cough suppressant. In the UK, it is listed as a class ‘A’ drug so it is carefully controlled, but this does not prevent people from abusing it. Hydrocodone creates similar pleasant side effects to other opiates, involving similar dangers.
Xanax (aka Alprazolam) belongs to a family of drugs known as benzodiazepines (Valium also belongs to this family), acting as a sedative. It is used in the treatment of anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder; sometimes it is also prescribed to treat insomnia. Individuals abuse this drug for the pleasant feeling of deep relaxation it produces, but it is easy to become addicted, leading to damage to both physical and mental health.
Adderall is a form of amphetamine that is mostly used in the treatment of ADHD. This drug is much stronger than Ritalin (see above), so there is even a higher risk of abuse. This drug is abused because of the ‘wide awake and full of energy’ experience; there are reports of students abusing this drug so they can study harder for exams. Adderall addiction can have very serious consequences, and it could eventually lead to death.
Lunesta (aka Eszopiclone) is a type of drug known as a hypnotic, commonly used in the treatment of insomnia. It is only legally available by prescription, but there is the potential for addiction. The pleasant side effects of Lunesta can include feelings of relaxation and well-being. On the other hand, the negative side effects include confusion, hallucinations, and chest pain.