Like most medications, opioids have a valid purpose, which is to alleviate or manage pain. They are not meant to be a long-term solution to pain, however, but only meant to be used for a short time while your body is healing from an injury. If pain continues beyond a certain time, however, most responsible doctors will not just keep prescribing opioids, but will instead look for the cause of the pain and attempt to address it. Unfortunately, the same is not true of other types of prescription medication.
When a person continues to take opioids for a long period of time, it is called an addiction. While continuing to take opioids is seen as problem, the chronic use of other types of prescription drugs is not – even though they can have many of the same long-term detrimental effects on overall health. Anti-depressants and stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are often viewed as being long term solutions to certain mental and behavioral issues. This is actually a problem. Here are 10 reasons why prescription stimulants are unhealthy.
1. Negative effect on heart health
Stimulants increase your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. In the short term, these can be positive attributes because they also make you more alert. Over the long term, however, a constantly increased heart rate can have a negative effect on overall heart health.
2. Interfere with sleep
People often reach for stimulants like coffee or tea in the morning to help them get a jump start on their day. Once again, in moderation, there is nothing wrong with this. Prescription stimulants, however, may actually build up in your blood stream, keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
3. Leads to a see-saw effect
Because stimulants can keep you awake at night, many people that use prescription stimulants also develop a need for prescription sleeping pills to help them sleep.
4. Throws your natural rhythms out of whack
When you need a pill to help you focus and then a pill to help you sleep, you are taking away your body’s ability to regulate itself. Eventually, you start needing more and more pills to do all the things that your body is meant to do all on its own.
5. Stimulants can be abused just like opioids
Between 2011 and 2005, the number of young adults between the ages of 18-34 that made emergency room visits due to prescription stimulant abuse more than tripled, going from 5,605 visits in 2005 to 22,949 in 2011. All of these visits were the result of prescription or over-the-counter stimulants rather than illicit (street produced) drugs.
6. Stimulants are just as addicting as opioids
Both stimulants and opioids affect brain chemistry in a way that is pleasant or desirable. When a drug has a pleasant effect, you begin to crave that effect to the point that you begin to take more and more of the drug in hopes that it will create more and more of the effect. This is called addiction.
7. Stimulant addiction is just as hard to overcome as opioid addiction
It does not matter what you are addicted to, it is just as difficult to overcome. Stimulants are just as addictive as opioids and have all the same negative effects as any other type of addiction.
8. Stimulant addiction has all the same social consequences as any other type of addiction
When a pill can alleviate any type of problem, you begin to develop a greater and greater dependence on that pill. Eventually, you reach a point where that pill becomes more important than anything else in your life, including your job, your family or your friends.
9. Stimulants can cause psychological issues
Some of the common side effects of stimulants are agitation, hostility, panic, aggression, and suicidal or homicidal tendencies. In many cases, the side effects of stimulants can be worse than the issue they are meant to treat.
10. Can lead to a loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition
There is a reason stimulants are generally the main ingredient in most diet pills. When stimulant use leads to a loss of appetite, it can also lead to more and more serious malnutrition.
If you would like more information about stimulant addiction and treatment options, please visit The Recovery Village.