Friday, January 07, 2005

Abuse of prescribed drugs continues unabated

As addictive drugs continue to be sold over the counter without any restriction, abuse of these prescribed drugs is not uncommon today. Often introduced to someone for a “good cause”, people soon latch on to them, being drawn into a vice-like grip of these substances that ruins lives with ease.

Some of the most commonly abused drugs include the “sleeping pills”, or sedatives in other words. Especially Lorazepam (common brands include Ativan), Nitrazepan (Nitrosun) and Diazepam (Calmpose and Valium). Then, there are the anti-anxiety drugs such as Alparazolam (Trika, Alzolam and Alprax). But the most life-threatening abuse refers to opiates like Dextropropoxiphen (Fortwin, Proxyvon and Parvon).

“A physician prescribes these drugs for a few days because a person needs them in a particular condition. But because of the relaxing effect of the drug, the patient switches to self-medication without advice from his doctor,” said Paramjeet Singh, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the SMS Medical College. “Often people come to us after using the drugs for as many as three years and it is only successful because chemists sell the drugs on the basis of the old prescription or even without it,” he added.

These drugs, once having established dependence, lead to severe and painful withdrawal symptoms, which include irritability, mood swings, sleep disorders and lack of concentration. “Not all know that they would get dependent on the drugs. So, the moment a person senses a certain dependency, he or she should get in touch with a psychiatrist,” said Neeraj Garg, a Medical Officer at the Deaddiction Ward of the SMS Hospital.

The ward receives ample number of abusers of prescribed drugs and on an average around 20 per cent of those admitted, usually around 20, are addicted to opioid derivatives. People addicted to anti-anxiety drugs also frequent OPD sessions. Around five cases are reported for each session that covers about 40 persons.

As dependence increases, the craving for drugs also goes up. And if a person does not have easy access to the drug, the withdrawal symptoms set in pushing them to limits where they can hurt themselves and even cause injury to others. “With the passing of time, the drug requirement goes up because the liver metabolises the drugs faster and it becomes a vicious cycle,” Singh said.

The most effective way to check the abuse is to ensure that prescription drugs are sold only with a valid prescription. “That would end the whole story,” he added. Also, it has be to ensured that only registered medical practitioners prescribe these drugs and not underqualified ones. “Family members and friends also have a responsibility to bring addicts to a deaddiction centre. The sooner that happens, the better,” Singh said.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home