When taken properly, a prescription drug treats a medical condition, thus allowing the body to heal. For example, if a person is having physical problems because of inability to get enough sleep, a short-term prescription drug can help that person re-establish a good sleep pattern. Once the body is receiving adequate rest, the other physical symptoms will diminish or disappear altogether.
Here is another example. It has been shown that pain can actually interfere with the body's ability to heal after an injury, illness, or surgery. When adequate pain control is established, however, the healing process can begin sooner and be more effective.
For this reason, it is not unusual for pain relief prescription drugs to be prescribed for short-term use, because it allows for a beneficial cycle to occur.
Pain is controlled, thus allowing the body to heal. As the body heals, pain diminishes. As pain diminishes, the need for the prescription drug also decreases.
If, however, no medical condition exists but a person takes or continues to take a prescription drug, the exact opposite can happen. There can be negative effects on the body, some of which may be permanent. Depending on the type of prescription drug being abused, the effects will be different. Some of the prescription drugs that are abused, as well as the effects on the body that are caused by abuse, are listed.
Anti-anxiety drugs help people who may be overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety or are suffering from anxiety attacks. They do this by increasing the way GABA, a chemical found in the brain that changes the way neurons in the brain respond to signals, affects the brain.
Anti-anxiety drugs can produce drowsiness and confusion, even when taken properly. When abused, these conditions, as well as depressed breathing, can be increased, causing unconsciousness or even death.
However, stopping anti-anxiety drugs too quickly can lead to seizures. These in themselves can be dangerous, as a person may injure himself from involuntary body movements or breathing can be compromised.
Stimulants cause the body to "speed up". Brain activity increases beyond that which is considered normal. This can lead to racing heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and a dangerous rise in body temperature. All of these can be dangerous. Heart attacks or strokes can occur from changes in heartbeat or blood pressure, while an extreme spike in body temperature can cause brain damage. Stimulants also act as appetite suppressants. People who abuse stimulants often go for days without eating. This causes malnutrition and dangerous weight loss.
Prescription drug abuse can also have an effect on one's mental and emotional condition. People who abuse prescription drugs may experience feelings of paranoia ("someone's out to get me") or may be unable to control their anger. In addition, prescription drug abuse can cause memory loss. If the abuse is bad enough, this condition may become permanent.
Prescription drugs should always be taken exactly as they are intended, and only for the purpose for which they are intended. When there is no longer a need for a medication, it should be stopped.
Physical effects that occur even with proper use should be noted and brought to a health care professional's attention. Even if the drug is not being abused, negative physical effects can be dangerous and in some instances irreversible.