Prescription drug addiction is becoming a fast-growing epidemic in the US. Addiction does not discriminate between age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Prescription drugs are so common that it’s easy for people to get hooked without even realizing they’re becoming addicted. The problem with prescription drug addiction is it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize how much of your life you’ve lost to this disease. This blog post aims to educate readers on what prescription drug addiction is and how it affects those around the addict.
We’ll cover the signs, symptoms, and warning signals of this problem as well as how it can be treated. In addition, we’ll provide information on what can be done to prevent prescription drug addiction from happening in the future and how those afflicted with this illness can find help for themselves or their loved ones.
What Are Prescription Drugs?
They are pharmaceutical drugs that a doctor has prescribed to a patient. These drugs are legal and approved for use in medical practice, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe or without risks.
Prescription drug abuse is the unauthorized use of prescription medication to achieve the effects of that drug. While they are not as potent and often have fewer side effects than illicit substances like heroin or methamphetamine, their abuse can still lead to some severe consequences such as addiction, overdose, and even death in some cases. This is because prescription medications are engineered for a specific person’s body weight which means that they will react differently depending on the person using them.
The most common form of this addiction is painkillers and opioid medications, which are prescribed for chronic or acute pain relief and often contain high levels of addictive substances like Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. Additionally, antidepressants like Xanax and Adderall may be abused to generate a feeling of euphoria and happiness. Still, this addiction can lead to paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, or even death.
Prescription drug abuse is a concern because addiction can be severe even if you take prescription medications as directed, leading some people to seek out these drugs illegally to get the feeling they are craving.
What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?
While determining abuse in illicit substances is relatively black and white, prescription drug abuse is a little more nuanced. For instance, if you accidentally have a drink while you’re on a prescription opioid, would that be considered abusing the drug? What about if you double-dose one day because you lost track of time?
The answer is less clear, but the following guidelines can help you understand the distinction.
If you take prescription medications for other purposes than what they are prescribed to be used for and if your use puts yourself or others in danger of physical harm – you may have a problem with abuse. Mixing alcohol with pills purposefully to create a buzz, for example, would be considered abuse.
But when does abuse turn into addiction?
When we talk about prescription drug addiction, there are two crucial things to keep in mind. The first and most fundamental difference between abuse and addiction is the degree of control. Addiction indicates that a person has lost this sense of self-control over his or her use; it can also be seen as taking drugs compulsively without any regard to the consequences. The second difference between abuse and addiction is the long-term effects that this drug has on a person’s life. Abuse results in short-term changes to your mental health, emotional stability, or physical well being while addiction may be seen as more deeply rooted, causing negative impacts on all of those things over time.
Signs And Symptoms Of Addiction
If you are someone who suspects their loved one is abusing prescription drugs, it can be challenging to be sure, especially if you’ve never been in this position before. If not handled early on, addiction may lead to withdrawal symptoms and long-term health issues that can affect your loved one’s quality of life for years.
Since the three most commonly abused prescription drugs, opioids, depressants and stimulants, have different mind-altering properties, they also have other signs and symptoms.
When misused, opioid drugs can cause constipation, euphoria, nausea, slowed down breathing, drowsiness, poor coordination, as well as hyperalgesia – an increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses.
Anti-anxiety medications and other similar sedatives can cause problems with memory, confusion, unsteady walking, dizziness, slowed down breathing and speech, as well as faulty concentration.
Regarding stimulants, they can increase a person’s alertness, cause them to feel high, and cause irregular heartbeats, elevated body temperature, and high blood pressure. Along with that, it can reduce a person’s appetite, cause them to be agitated, anxious, paranoid, and cause insomnia.
Other signs of drug abuse are excessive mood swings, the iIncrease or decrease in sleep, an individual being unusually energetic, as well as the person who is abusing drugs requesting early refills, constantly seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor, and even “losing” prescriptions non-stop.
When you are the one with a prescription drug problem, it’s much harder to see the truth. Only 11% of those who suffer from addiction to prescription drugs even receive treatment. That leaves around 89% of addicts on their own to struggle with the depths and challenges of this addiction.
Abusing prescription drugs can cause many other medical problems regarding the persons’ mental health and physical health.
Opioids can not only slow down the individual’s breathing rate, but they can also cause the breathing to stop, which can cause either a coma or even a risk of death. Along with that, opioids can cause low blood pressure, pinpoint pupils, respiratory depression, as well as a lethal condition that can cause hypoxia. People who survived an opioid overdose also faced adverse complications such as permanent brain damage.
Anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, and other types of sedatives can cause memory problems, as well as being able to cause low blood pressure and slowed breathing. Overdosing on them, just like opioids, causes coma or a risk of death. However, suddenly stopping the medication can cause withdrawal symptoms, which may cause seizures or nervous system hyperactivity.
Stimulants share the problems of causing high blood pressures and seizures with sedative medications and opioids. However, they can also cause tremors, heart problems, hallucinations, as well as an increase of aggressiveness and paranoia in an individual.
Even still, there are many signs to look for if you’re questioning whether or not you’ve become addicted to prescription medication. Maybe it takes all your strength not to use them, and when you do, the temptation lingers, or perhaps you find yourself making excuses about using just one more time. If this sounds a little bit too familiar, you may be struggling with a prescription drug use disorder. But how do you know for sure?
This is when you should try to stop – however, we do understand that starting this journey can be challenging, let alone finishing it. Nevertheless, you should be informed about all of the consequences that will come with the decision to change your life for the better.
Withdrawal And Detoxification Process
Withdrawal refers to an individual’s body trying to return to its original state. However, without following a proper rehabilitation program, withdrawal can be painful and dangerous. The changes happening to your body and mind during withdrawal are a result of physiological processes and changes in brain chemistry. Stimulants, opiates, and antidepressants work by increasing the activity of nerve cells in your brain. Drugs that are abused most often are classified as drugs that affect GABA receptors and inhibit nerve cell activity. GABA plays a vital role in many aspects of behavior, cognition, and the body’s response to stress. Research has suggested that GABA may help to control fear and anxiety when neurons become over-excited.
These stimulants, opiates, and antidepressants interfere with the way GABA receptors work to reduce the activation of your nerves. Therefore, if you are trying to stop using your prescription medication yourself, even if it is little by little, you are still at risk of danger as you are not medically supervised.
In the case of prescription drug addiction, withdrawal symptoms can occur within 12 hours after you have used the prescription drug but usually start about a day later. The severity of the symptoms will depend on how long you’ve been taking the medication for, as well as what type it is – some may be more intense than others.
You should also avoid taking any over-the-counter medications while withdrawing from your prescription drug dependency since many of these medicines interact in ways you may not be able to predict.
The best way to combat prescription drug addiction is with the help of a physician who can supervise your withdrawal, adjust dosages to minimize unpleasant side effects, and make sure you’re not at risk for dangerous complications. If you are already addicted, it may be difficult or impossible to stop on your own without medical supervision.
Although it is possible to overcome addiction by yourself, it is not recommended as addiction can return very quickly.
If you are addicted to prescription drugs, you must seek help from a physician specializing in drug addiction and withdrawal management. Most of the time, they will be able to find a medication for your specific addiction while also reducing any unpleasant side effects or physical complications associated with withdrawal. Additionally, going to a rehabilitation center might be a good choice if you want to be in a fully controlled environment while attempting to overcome your addiction.
There are many types of treatment for prescription drug addiction, which means that you surely can find the one that will work for you. For instance, one way the types of treatment can be categorized is by dividing them into two types of therapy: cognitive behavior therapy or holistic therapy.
Cognitive behavior therapy seeks to help patients figure out the root causes of their thoughts and behaviors that led them to abuse drugs. People who undergo this type of treatment need to examine their mindset and ways of thinking, focusing on the ways in which their lives can be enhanced.
Holistic addiction treatment programs focus on the person as a whole – the mind, the body, and the spirit. Holistic practitioners believe that for one to heal physically, that person must be well in all areas – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Holistic rehabilitation is a multi-dimensional approach to patient care that touches on all aspects of the individual’s life, addressing both physical and mental issues.
However, as we already said, there are many kinds of treatment – and we at the Right Way Recovery Services are here to help you every step of the way. Regardless of your financial situation or any other factor that you may think of as a hindrance, we can make it work. All you need to do is contact us, and we will help you find the recovery program that will best suit the needs and opportunities you have.
We have been working with clients for more than 15 years, and in that time, we’ve seen many people come back from addiction. It’s all about finding what works best for you – every individual is different, and there are many ways to get better. We will be here to help you find the right path for you.