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In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to more ER visits because of accidental overdoses and more admissions to treatment programs for drug addictions.
Addiction is a chronic brain disease that often happens again. It causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful effects on the addicted person and the people around that person. The abuse of drugs — even prescription drugs — leads to changes in how the brain looks and works.
For most people, the first decision to take prescription drugs is voluntary. But over time, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse affect a person’s self-control and ability to make sound decisions. While this is going on, the person continues to have intense impulses to take more drugs.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the three classes of prescription drugs that are often abused are:
Since the early 1990s, doctors’ prescriptions for opioid medications — such as codeine and morphine (Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Oramorph SR) — have greatly risen. That increase can be attributed to an aging population and more widespread chronic pain. Other drugs in this class include: