Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Medication Dependency

With the recent loss of Micheal Jackson and also the passing of Anna Nicole Smith, this is a wake up call that medication is no joke. Many people get through their lives on pills and are not enjoying what life really feels like. Rather than going out and smelling the fresh cut grass or going for a hike people are becoming too doped up on a cocktail of meds and just are not enjoying reality. I remember... I worked with a lady who was in her mid 30's and she was taking about 15 pills a day; one to offset the effects of another. Everyone warned her that she was damaging her body -- sure enough she eventually had a stroke. I'm not certain that all those medications caused this, but it's something to keep in mind. Please read this article if you have any concerns that you or someone you may love are over dependent on meds. - Health Girl

This article was found at Priority Health.com.

What Is Medication Dependency?
If you use some prescription medications long-term, you can become physically dependent on them. A person who is dependent on a medication has a physical need to take it in order to function.

Signs & Symptoms
People who are physically dependent usually need progressively higher doses of a medication in order for it to maintain its effect. This condition is called drug tolerance. If the medication is suddenly reduced or stopped, it causes withdrawal symptoms, which can include:
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Body aches
  • Sweating

Who's at Risk?
There are addictive and non-addictive medications that can cause physical dependency. Three kinds of prescription medications most often associated with medication dependency are:
  • Opioids (narcotics), prescribed to treat pain
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants, prescribed for the sleep disorder narcolepsy and to treat attention deficit hyper
  • activity disorder (ADHD)

Being physically dependent on a medication doesn't necessarily mean you're addicted to it. In fact, people often confuse dependency with addiction, which is a compulsive, uncontrollable use of drugs despite the harm they may cause.

Professional Help
If you're taking a medication that results in physical dependency, do not stop taking it suddenly or on your own. When it's time to discontinue or change your medication, your doctor will advise you on how to reduce your dosage gradually. This helps your body adjust so you can avoid symptoms of withdrawal.

If you're taking an addictive medication such as a painkiller, follow your doctor's instructions exactly on how to take it. He or she knows how much medication to prescribe for you so that you'll get relief without becoming addicted.

Priority Health members can check here for information on getting substance abuse assistance.

What You Can Do
  • See your doctor regularly. Your doctor will monitor you to adjust dosages or change medications as needed. Some medications need to be stopped or changed so that you don't become addicted.
  • Tell your doctor how medications affect you, physically and emotionally, especially during the first few days while your body adjusts.
  • Read all instructions from the pharmacy carefully. Pay attention to any other medications or activities you should avoid. If there's anything you don't understand, ask your pharmacist about it.
  • Don't take other peoples' prescriptions and don't share your own. These are specifically prescribed and may be harmful to someone else. It's also illegal to give prescription medication to someone it's not prescribed for.

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