This term is a bit more complicated than merely “smoking opium”. It starts when you have your first high, the world is peaceful, everything is perfect, you’re numb, but in the best way possible. But, soon, it starts wearing off. Fast. Your mind races, you’re pulled out of your dream world. You crave the drug more and more, wanting to feel the same way as you did on your first high. You go to the dealer and buy the same amount you had the first time, and smoke. Still feels good, but not as good as first time. You go and buy more. Closer, but not quite there. You’re stuck, you don’t know what to do. You want to go back to that little dream world and stay forever, but your body is already developing a tolerance. You panic. You use all your money to buy more and more and more, but still, not the same as that first time. You realize that you have no more money, so you start selling your things, pawning whatever could get you that next bag. Still, nothing compared to what you had on that first, magical time. So, you’re broke and own nothing. But you don’t care, all you care about is getting back to the first high. You start stealing, doing “favors”, whatever gets you the money for the attempt. Your life becomes a living hell, all in search of a repeat of the first high. That’s chasing the dragon.
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Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication that was prescribed for someone else or takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason—like to get high. It has become a big health issue because of the dangers, particularly the danger of abusing prescription pain medications. For teens, it is a growing problem:
- After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans age 14 and older.
- Teens abuse prescription drugs for a number of reasons, such as to get high, to stop pain, or because they think it will help them with school work.
- Most teens get prescription drugs they abuse from friends and relatives, sometimes without the person knowing. 19% of local high school students admit to using prescription drugs that don’t belong to them.
- Boys and girls tend to abuse some types of prescription drugs for different reasons. For example, boys are more likely to abuse prescription stimulants to get high, while girls tend to abuse them to stay alert or to lose weight.
When prescription drugs are taken as directed, they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs. When prescription drugs are abused, they can be addictive and put the person at risk for other harmful health effects, such as overdose (especially when taken along with other drugs or alcohol). And, abusing prescription drugs is illegal—and that includes sharing prescriptions with family members or friends.
The following stories are real. The names have been changed to maintain anonymity.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.