Last time we discussed opioids, what they are, how they work and specific opioid prescriptions. Today the focus is other common addictive drugs, their use and side effects.
Methamphetamines, Meth, Crystal meth and Cocaine are not opioids. These are amphetamines--stimulants or “uppers.” The effects of taking amphetamines are increased alertness, talkativeness and physical activity, decreased appetite, faster breathing, rapid/irregular heart beat and increased blood pressure and body temperature. Long term use of amphetamines causes extreme weight loss, dental problems (meth mouth), intense itching, anxiety, confusion, sleep problems, paranoia and hallucinations. Although Meth and cocaine are highly addictive, the effects of meth are more neurologically devastating and irreversible than cocaine, in other words Meth damages your brain in a way that cannot be fixed.
Benzo’s or benzodiazepines are a class of drugs used to treat insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. They can also be used as a sedative, muscle relaxer or general anesthesia. These include alprazolam (Xanax ®), diazepam (Valium ®), oxazepam (Serax®), lorazepam (Atvian®), clonazepam (Klonopin ®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), chlordiazepoxide (Librium ®), flurazepam (Dalmane®). The side effects include dizziness, weakness, unsteadiness, loss of orientation, headaches, sleep disturbances, confusion, irritability, aggression, excitement and memory impairment. All benzodiazepines can cause dependence in a few months and may cause symptoms of withdrawal when discontinued. Withdrawal may cause seizures, tremor, muscle cramping, vomiting and sweating. Medical assistance may be required to safely stop their use.
Many of these drugs have a legitimate medical use if taken as prescribed by a medical provider. All of them can be highly addictive. If you find that you have been prescribed any of these medications, it might be worth a conversation with your doctor to discuss why you are taking them and the long-term consequences. My purpose is to promote awareness of the drugs that are most often abused. I have included the generic and brand names so that you can see if any of your prescriptions are on the list. You can also Google your prescriptions and learn more online about the prescriptions you are taking.
Next time, we will discuss tolerance, dependence and addiction. Sources of this article: www.drugfree.gov, www.therecoveryvillage.com, www.drugabuse.gov and www.drugRehab.com, www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov, www.centeronaddiction.org.
Lynn Saylor is an AmeriCorps member serving in the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative through the White County United Way. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Previous articles may be found on whitecountyunitedway.org/opioids.html. 385 words