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5 Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse on the Body

a woman takes her medicine with a glass of water while wondering of the effects of prescription drug abuse

In the right circumstances, medication can help you recover your health or promote your ongoing well-being. But this is true only when you use your prescription as intended. If you misuse or abuse your medication, you open yourself up to grave consequences. And if the medicine you’re taking is addictive, those consequences may result in the need to enter prescription drug treatment. Some of the effects of prescription drug abuse are mental. However, many are physical in nature. Awareness of these effects may help encourage you to seek the treatment you need to recover.

Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is a single term with multiple meanings. In the proper context, it can refer to the misuse or overuse of prescription drugs. Actions that fall into this category include:

  • Using medication for its pleasurable effects, not its health benefits
  • Increasing your dosage of medication without your doctor’s approval
  • Taking your doses closer together than your doctor instructed
  • Crushing a pill or doing anything else to make it hit your system faster
  • Taking a drug that was not issued in your name
  • Buying a prescription through a third party

Repeated overuse of prescription drugs can eventually lead to the onset of the second kind of drug abuse. This diagnosable condition seriously impairs your ability to function even though it doesn’t produce addiction.

Both diagnosable drug abuse and drug addiction are part of an illness called substance use disorder (SUD). There is a form of SUD associated with every addictive substance. That includes prescription drugs. A SUD may only involve non-addicted abuse. In addition, it may only involve addiction. But frequently, abuse and addiction are overlapping problems.

Physical Dependence as an Effect of Prescription Drug Abuse

Recurring misuse of an addictive medication not only puts you at risk for diagnosable drug abuse. It also drastically increases your chances of developing addiction itself. Some of the impacts of addiction are emotional or psychological. However, the root of its onset is physical.

Problems start when repeated misuse leads to changes in your brain’s basic chemistry. Once established, these changes:

  • Make your brain reliant on the medication
  • Trigger increased tolerance to that medication’s drug effects
  • Lead to symptoms of withdrawal if you stop taking the medication

Together, they form the basis for physical drug dependence. Be aware that you can develop physical dependence without being addicted. But continued medication misuse can quickly push you over the addiction threshold.

Other Physical Effects of Drugs or Medications

Misuse of a prescription drug also comes with other potential physical effects. Some of the most notable effects include increased risks for:

  • A fatal or nonfatal overdose
  • Heart attacks and cardiac arrest
  • Impaired liver function
  • Kidney damage
  • Lung damage

You may also experience other kinds of physical effects of drugs or medications. For example, you may develop chronic constipation or diarrhea. Changes in your dietary habits may lead to profound weight loss or malnutrition. In addition, you can increase your overall risk of dying prematurely.

Find Out More About the Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse at Northpoint Colorado

Want to learn more about the impact of abusing prescription drugs? Talk to the professionals at Northpoint Colorado. We’re happy to explain the issues or side effects associated with a given medication. That’s true whether those effects are physical or mental.

Have you already developed a SUD? If so, Northpoint can help. We feature treatment plans for all addictive medications. All care is customized to suit your specific needs. Our goal is to help you recover both your physical and mental well-being. Contact us today 888.231.1281. We’re also available through our online form.