When we talk about dangerous drugs, most people probably have things like a meth pipe and needle in mind. However, normal prescription drugs can also be lethal when used to treat the wrong condition or in the wrong dosage.
In fact, the death rates from prescription drug overdose have risen significantly in the last two decades.
What Are the Dangers of Prescription Drugs?
One of the biggest dangers of improper prescription drug use is the risk of drug addiction or fatal overdose. While many patients assume the medications prescribed to them by doctors are entirely safe, that’s not always the case.
Doctors prescribe a safe dosage of medications and direct the patients on how they should use them. Failure to adhere to these instructions can lead to prescription drug abuse, which is sometimes as dangerous as substance abuse.
Sometimes prescription drug users forget that these medications have the potential to cause an overdose, which occurs when someone takes a toxic dosage of a substance. It is also possible to overdose if your medical provider writes a bad prescription.
Which Are the Most Dangerous Drugs?
While all types of medication have the potential to cause harm if abused, some are more dangerous than others and contribute to the rising drug overdose deaths.
Here are some of the most dangerous drugs you will likely find in a prescription cabinet.
If the US learned anything from the opioid crisis, it’s that opioid drugs can be extremely addictive. Opioids are potent pain relief drugs used to treat moderate to chronic pain.
Many patients with severe or chronic pain prefer this class of drugs because it is stronger than ordinary prescription painkillers. Therefore, as the number of adults who experience non-cancer pain continues to rise, the number of people taking opioid painkillers has also increased.
Consequently, opioid addiction rates have skyrocketed, culminating in thousands of opioid-related overdose deaths. Misusing opioid drugs such as OxyCotin, Percocet and Vicodin can lead to slowed breathing resulting in hypoxia, a condition that reduces oxygen supply to the brain.
Apart from medication prescribed to relieve severe pain, this class of drugs also consists of medications like methadone. This drug is primarily used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) of opioid addiction to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Although it’s safer than other MAT methods like opioids and heroin, it’s still possible to take fatal overdoses.
Some risk factors of opioid overdose include using opioids after significant weight loss or combining them with other drugs (especially illicit drugs).
It’s also risky to take different amounts, such as reducing intake and then going back to a previously safe amount. At this point, your opioid tolerance has diminished, and the once-safe amount could now be an overdose.
Stimulant medication consists of drugs like Adderall (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine), primarily used to treat ADHD. Unfortunately, they’re often diverted and sold as illicit drugs to people without a prescription or taken in large quantities for pleasure.
According to a survey of 200 undergraduate students, every student prescribed for ADHD medicine reported that someone else had asked for their drugs. Another 11% admitted to using stimulant medications without a prescription.
Between 2000 and 2014, the US reported over 150,000 exposures to ADHD stimulants, with 76% occurring in teenagers aged between 13 and 19. While imprecise, some association between the use of stimulants and sudden unexplained deaths in adolescents and infants has been found.
Antidepressants are used to treat mood swings, depression, and other mental health disorders. They include Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, and Cymbalta.
Although they are not particularly lethal, antidepressants have severe long-term effects, especially when abused. These include blood clots, insomnia, low libido, and an increased risk of internal bleeding.
Drugs classified as benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat anxiety. These include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. Although they’re commonly prescribed, benzodiazepines are among the most dangerous drugs on this list.
These anti-anxiety medications are considered central nervous system depressants, which means they relax activity in the spinal cord and brain while slowing functions like heart rate and breathing. As a result, when taken in high doses or mixed with other substances such as alcohol or opioids, they can cause respiratory depression and even death.
Possibly the most common drugs in American households, cough medicines close our list of most dangerous drugs. While they are pretty harmless in small doses, cough syrups with Dextromethorphan (DXM) as an active ingredient can have serious consequences in higher doses. Apart from containing highly addictive substances, they have similar effects to illegal drugs when overdosed.
Unregulated use of cough syrup can be highly addictive and can eventually lead to substance use disorder.
How Do You Know if You’ve Been Taking Dangerous Drugs?
As we’ve seen, misusing medications can lead to drug overdoses or even drug-related deaths. So, how do you know if the medications you’re taking are endangering your life?
Here are a few signs to look out for:
- Unsteady walking.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- High blood pressure.
- High body temperature.
- Worsening or increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses.
If you experience these symptoms after taking a specific drug, you’re at high risk of drug-related complications like accidental death, liver disease, and cardiac arrest. Additionally, some lifestyle habits, such as alcohol abuse, put you at greater risk of lethal drug interactions.
How Do You Avoid Dangerous Drugs or Doses?
Sometimes you might be using the right medications at the wrong dosage, which is equally dangerous. As a result, you should go to one specific treatment provider so that they can keep a detailed medical record.
If you decide to try other treatment centers, always tell the doctor about all your medications so they can suggest compatible drug combinations.
It’s also essential to explore other treatment options, such as compound medication that we offer here at Fort Worth Pharmacy. This individualized form of treatment provides custom medication based on your pre-existing conditions, risk factors, or even allergies.
For instance, while most treatment providers can prescribe pills to treat pain, they don’t convert them into a liquid for patients who have trouble swallowing. This can cause inconsistencies in following the prescription and eventually drug abuse.
Compound medication allows you to consume the necessary ingredients while leaving out any toxic or addictive substance.
Not Sure if Your Doctor Prescribed a Dangerous Drug? Try FW Pharmacy Compounding Services
Using dangerous prescription drugs can have dire impacts on a person’s health. It’s therefore essential to seek professional treatment advice instead of buying over-the-counter drugs. It’s also vital to try custom treatment options like compound medication to ensure you get the correct dosage and that it’s safe for you.
FW Pharmacy offers individualized treatment services and offers customized medication. Talk to one of our professional pharmacists and learn how compound medication can help you reduce the risks associated with prescription medicine.