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Medication

Definition:

Medication, or pharmaceuticals, refers to drugs which are bought over the counter at chemists/pharmacies or sometimes at supermarkets, or are prescribed by a doctor to treat, manage or prevent medical conditions, illness, diseases and pain.

When misused, medication can be harmful to the user and can cause a range of side effects including addiction and dependence, overdose and potentially death.

Further information can be found below about the following medications: paracetamol, ADHD medication, benzodiazepines and cough and cold medication.

Pill Packets (iStock_3415480M)

Paracetamol

Paracetamol is a drug which is commonly used in Australia for pain relief. Paracetamol is generally safe to use when the dosage instructions (including amounts and frequency) are adhered to.

Common brands of paracetamol in Australia include: Panadol, Herron, Panamax.

It is always best to consult a medical professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, to determine whether paracetamol is safe for you to use.

Using paracetamol recreationally, in anticipation of pain or using it for reasons other than its intended purpose can have harmful effects, including, but not limited to:

  • damage to the liver and other organs
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain or cramps
  • stomach swelling or tenderness
  • brain damage
  • overdose
  • in some cases, death

If the dosage instructions are not adhered to, an overdose can be experienced, making the user very sick and potentially at risk of death if treatment is not sought.

If an overdose is suspected, seeking treatment early reduces the likelihood of any permanent damage.

ADHD Medication

ADHD medication refers to drugs which are prescribed by a doctor to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The drugs used to treat ADHD are usually psychostimulant medications such as methylphenidate (more commonly known by brand names such as Ritalin or Concerta).

While ADHD medications are used to manage the symptoms of ADHD, using the medications when you do not have ADHD or when they have not been prescribed to you can have harmful effects, including, but not limited to:

  • paranoia
  • hyperactivity
  • heart problems, including stroke
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • restlessness and inability to sleep
  • loss of appetite
  • dependence
  • in some cases, death

ADHD medication should only be taken when it is prescribed by a medical professional and the dosage instructions (including amounts and frequency) should be adhered to.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines refer to the category drugs which have a mild tranquilliser effect.

There are different types of drugs in the benzodiazepine category. Some common brand names include: Alprax, Ducene, Mogadon, Normison, Serepax, Valium, Xanax.

Other nicknames for benzodiazepines include: benzos, downers, tranks, sleepers, vals, v.

Benzodiazepines are prescribed by a doctor to help treat people who are suffering from anxiety or sleep issues.

When misused benzodiazepines can have harmful effects including, but not limited to:

  • organ damage
  • dependence
  • overdose
  • falling into a coma
  • in some cases, death

Benzodiazepines should only be taken when they are prescribed by a medical professional and the dosage instructions (including amounts and frequency) should be adhered to.

Cough and cold medications

There are a range of medications available in Australia which are used to treat the symptoms of coughs and colds.

Cough and cold medications are generally safe to use when the dosage instructions (including amounts and frequency) are adhered to.

Each of the medications may contain different ingredients, so it is important to check the ingredient list, precautions and potential side effects.

It is always best to consult a medical professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, to determine whether a cough or cold medication is safe for you to use.

Using cough or cold medicines recreationally or for reasons other than their intended purpose can have harmful effects, including, but not limited to:

  • damage to the liver and other organs
  • feeling different from usual
  • seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling or experiencing things that aren’t really there
  • dependence
  • impaired motor function
  • brain damage
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • overdose
  • in some cases, death

If the dosage instructions are not adhered to, an overdose can be experienced, making the user very sick and potentially at risk of death if treatment is not sought.

If an overdose is suspected, seeking treatment early reduces the likelihood of any permanent damage.

Drug use can have a range of social consequences and can have impact not only on an individual, but also their relationships and their work or study. Drug use can cause financial issues, family problems and can also have legal consequences.

If you are concerned about your own or another person’s drug use we encourage you to seek professional help and assistance.

There are always risks associated with drug use. No use at all is the safest option.

Further information and support:

If you suspect an overdose call triple zero (000) immediately.

In an emergency or crisis situation always call triple zero (000) for police, fire and ambulance and follow instructions.

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