Is Addiction Lurking in Your Medicine Cabinet?

As a result of a raging opioid epidemic , many people have become aware of the dangers of prescription painkillers like hydrocodone (Vicodin) and...

Is Addiction Lurking in Your Medicine Cabinet?
25May

Is Addiction Lurking in Your Medicine Cabinet?

Written by Jessica Bensonin Section Must Reads

As a result of a raging opioid epidemic, many people have become aware of the dangers of prescription painkillers like hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin). But there are several other medicines commonly found in the medicine cabinet that also pose a risk of addiction for your family and anyone else who might be shopping around in your medicine cabinet. Are any of these in your medicine cabinet?

The original article was posted on the PsychCentral Blog on May 27th, 2018, and written by Dr. David Sack, M.D.

Anxiety

Benzodiazepines. These sedative-hypnotic drugs are typically prescribed for general anxiety disorder and panic disorder, as well as insomnia and epilepsy. Brand names include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam) and Klonopin (clonazepam). They can be habit-forming with long-term use.

Sleep

Hypnotic medicines. Also known as soporifics, these are used to treat sleeping problems such as insomnia. Brand names include Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone), Rozerem (ramelteon) and Restoril (temazepam). These medicines can be habit-forming but they are not as addictive as benzodiazepines, which are also sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid.

Pain

Opiates. These narcotics are used for their analgesic effect (for pain), as well as for their sedative, tranquilizing and soporific properties. They change the way the nervous system experiences pain. Prescribed opiates are controlled substances that can be addictive and should be used as sparingly as possible. Research shows that prescription opiate abuse can lead to heroin use, as well as the street drug version of fentanyl, which has an extremely high incidence of overdose. These medications are known to cause respiratory distress when taken in high doses or when combined with certain other substances, especially alcohol. There are many varieties of prescription painkillers, including:

  • Codeine, which is used for pain and to treat coughs
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin) as well as the shorter acting forms like Percocet and Percodan
  • Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet which contain a mix of hydrocodone and the non-opioid pain reliever acetaminophen
  • Demerol (meperidine) in pill form
  • Fentanyl transdermal patches to relieve severe pain, which may be prescribed for people who cannot be treated with other medications
  • Morphine, which is sometimes administered post-surgically and prescribed for cancer patients
  • Methadone for chronic pain

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