Drug abuse and addiction devastate families from all backgrounds across this entire country. Millions of Americans are currently coping with some form of addiction. Unfortunately, most of those individuals will never receive proper treatment for their addiction. The rise in drug abuse and addiction in this country has been directly influenced by the increase in popularity and availability of prescription drugs. These medications are all around us: on television, in ads, in every store, talked about on the radio, and are most commonly found in our medicine cabinets. In fact, studies have shown that the majority of individuals who abuse and become addicted to prescription drugs (among other substance abuse issues) begin abusing the medicine they find in their, a friend, or a family member’s home.

Addiction

Addiction can begin in numerous types of ways, but normally starts with peer pressure, curiosity, and trying to fill a void in an individual’s life. The quickness of an addiction varies from person to person, drug to drug. Drugs like opioids, meth, and heroin have a very quick onset of addiction; due to the drug’s effects on the body and their concentration. Tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana addictions arise over longer exposures to the drug. Various drugs work in different ways on the body to produce the desired effects. What addictive drugs have in common is a ‘euphoric’ feeling that is created when the drug is taken; most commonly felt when the drug is abused. Abusing prescription drugs is the act of consuming the drug for non-medical purpose. The truth is that many people become addicted to prescription drugs even if they begin taking them as recommended by a physician. Prescription drug should not be taken over extended periods of time because this can lead to an increase in tolerance and eventual dependency. While at the same time, an individual’s temperament has a great deal of influence of their addiction. Those not suffering from anxiety or depression have a less likely chance of becoming addicted to those who do not. Studies have proved that people who suffer from pre-existing mental disorders (anxiety, depression, stress) have an increased probability of developing an addiction.

Modafinil History and Danger

Modafinil was created and approved by the FDA in 1998; originally to treat narcolepsy and sleep disorders. In recent years, it has been used to treat depression, Parkinson’s disease and fatigue. The drug is also used by soldiers to stay awake and normal citizens as a safe brain boost. When the drug was originally passed for use pharmacologists did not know how it ‘exactly’ worked, but believed it did not boost dopamine levels. Unlike similar drugs, amphetamines for example, the drug seemed to be safe from addiction. Recent research has found that the drug does in fact affect dopamine levels in the brain. Many neuroethicists worry that the social pressure to take cognition-enhancing drugs could outpace scientific understanding. Currently the drug is being used for non-prescription use and many are experimenting with cognition-enhancing drugs. A recent study was conducted to test the dopamine increase of Modafinil. Ten adult males were given Modafinil (therapeutic levels) and also injected with small doses of cocaine, which had short-lived radioactive isotopes. Scientists used technology that tracks those radioactive isotopes to find that the cocaine did indeed go to the brain’s pleasure centers; a reaction that is what causes the euphoric sensations when taking cocaine. Normally the drug would then bind to the dopamine receptors, instead of binding the cocaine continued to circulate. This is clear evidence that Modafinil had already completely saturated the dopamine receptors, blocking the cocaine. When dopamine receptors are blocked, the circulating levels of dopamine increase. The team does not believe these results are conclusive in any way, but it is a start. There are isolated reports of Modafinil abuse, but none to this date of addiction. As previously stated, this drug was approved by the FDA before scientists had the tools/technology to fully test its safety. Researchers believe this practice of approving drugs before science has the ability to test it will continue. Professionals who work with the brain believe that caution and humility are key when dealing with changing the chemical make-up of the brain.

Prescription Drug Abuse

The abuse and improper use of prescription medications in the United States remains high, without signs of diminishing, and the majority of our society is unaware of the significant problem we as Americans have. In the United States alone, 52 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. The United States occupies 5% of the world’s population and consumes 75% of the world’s prescriptions drugs. In 2010, there was enough prescription pain medications prescribed to medicated ever adult American for every 4 hours, for one month. There were 8.76 million prescription medicine abusers in 2010. The three main prescription drugs abused were: Painkillers at 5.1 million, Tranquilizers at 2.2 million, and Stimulants at 1.1. Prescription drugs were obtained by:

-Free from Friend or Relative, 54.2%
-From one Doctor, 18.1%
-Bought/Took from friend or relative, 16.6%
-Drug dealer or stranger, 3.9%
-Other, 6.9%
-Bought on internet, .3%.

Signs and symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse/Addiction

-Hostility
-paranoia
-slowed brain function
-loss of coordination
-impaired motor function
-hypoxic brain damage
-raised body temperature
-irregular heartbeat
-heart failure
-nausea
-vomiting
-seizures
-drowsiness
-constipation
-depressed breathing
-death: from opioid overdose
-change in behavior
-lack of motivation
-cheating, lying or stealing
-legal trouble
-social problems
-financial trouble

Getting Help

Drug abuse and addiction are very serious issues that must be dealt with as soon as they are detected. Detecting abuse or addiction can be difficult, especially if the addict is a fully functioning member of society or functioning addict. If and when you suspect someone of substance abuse it is imperative to speak with someone; even if that someone is not a professional. The more people who are involved the better the chances that of getting an addict help. Education is a key tool in combating a substance abuse issue; the more that is known about addiction the better equipped someone is to help. There are thousands of treatment centers and even more hotlines that can provide any and all information that is required to get the help needed. The best treatment for an addiction is long-term in-patient care. Getting help is not impossible; it is just a phone call away.