You may have experienced an illness or health condition that required the use of a prescription drug. Many people take these medications and have no problems stopping use once their doctor instructs them to do so or they run out. But why do some people abuse prescription medication? The answer lies in the dangers of how addictive these substances are. Several types of medications are considered some of the most addictive in healthcare today. Below, we examine some of these and their relationship to addiction.
To clarify, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines misuse of prescription medication as taking it in a way other than prescribed, taking someone else’s medication even if you try to justify it (such as to treat illness or pain), or using medication recreationally for its desired effects.
Drug addiction is a complex disease that affects an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. It is described as a brain disease because drugs alter the structure of the brain and how it works. Without treatment, these brain changes can cause long-term damaging effects and cause chaos in a person’s life.
Addiction is a chronic disease that often ends up being fatal if left untreated.Individuals struggling with prescription drug addiction feel like they cannot function normally daily without using. This consequently impacts the individual’s professional goals, personal relationships, and overall well-being.
Some of the most noticeable symptoms of prescription drug addiction are those that affect certain processes within your body, such as tolerance. For example, a tolerance to drugs develops after extended use. When tolerance increases over continued use, increased quantities of the drug are required to achieve the previous effects. Individuals abusing prescription drugs may begin to take such large doses to overcome their tolerance that they risk a potentially fatal overdose.
An addiction to prescription drugs can severely change a person’s behavior and habits. Some drugs can alter the brain’s ability to concentrate and think clearly.
Opioids have a high potential for abuse. They are currently fueling the prescription drug overdose epidemic in the U.S. NIDA reports that opioid overdoses cause about 130 deaths in the United States per day. Heroin is the most widely used illicit opioid today, but many opioids are available for legitimate medical use.More About Prescription Opiods
Prescription opioids are meant to relieve pain in moderate to severe cases. They work by communicating with chemical messengers in the brain that signal pain and provide comfort by causing an increase in the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone that is associated with pleasure. This boost in pleasure could fuel misuse in people who feel that prescription opioids have given them a new lease on life.
These medications can be helpful for people who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Prescription stimulants are sometimes known as study drugs. They are commonly abused by high school and college students who are looking to stay up all night cramming for tests or writing papers. Studies have found that students who abuse prescription stimulants have lower grade point averages (GPAs) than those who don’t, suggesting that they don’t improve academic performance.MORE ABOUT PRESCRIPTION STIMULANTS
These are sedatives that relax the central nervous system. They are formulated from barbituric acid. Their use in the United States is far less common today, but you may have heard of them in a historical context. Benzodiazepines largely replaced barbiturates, primarily due to barbiturates’ high potential for abuse.
Barbiturates are known to have a high misuse potential because it’s easy to become tolerant of their effects. Once you require higher doses of the medication, it becomes more difficult to understand what safe dosage is. People can become psychologically dependent on barbiturates very quickly. There are no known treatments that can help if you overdose on barbiturates.More About Prescription Barbiturates More About Prescription Sedatives & Tranquilizers
These drugs are often seen as a modern alternative to barbiturates, but they pose their own set of problems. Benzodiazepines are controlled substances that must be prescribed by a physician. They are known in popular culture as benzos or “downers” because they depress the central nervous systems.
Benzodiazepines are controlled substances that must be prescribed by a physician. They are known in popular culture as downers or benzos because they depress the central nervous system.
Experts explain that benzodiazepines are dangerous because they quickly cause dependency. This does not cause a person to misuse these medications, but it can cause uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal. You cannot stop using benzodiazepines suddenly because of this. Doing so is dangerous.
Benzodiazepines were implicated in 64,000 deaths in the United States in 2016. Finding alternatives may save the lives of those who are prone to dependency or addiction.More About Prescription Benzodiazepines More About Prescription Nonbenzodiazepines
Muscle relaxants are usually prescribed for those who deal with spasms. These drugs can assist during recovery so you can get through the day and use your muscles correctly during rehabilitation exercises. They also prevent muscles from seizing up during certain moments.
These medications are known to make you feel sleepy, and this relaxation is appealing to many who abuse the drugs. A 2014 paper published by Pharmacy and Therapeutics said that about 53,000 patients visited the emergency room in 2011 because they misused muscle relaxants.
An estimated 18 percent of these cases involved the use of alcohol while on these medications. About 4.8 percent of suicide attempts were found to have involved muscle relaxants. Most alternatives to muscle relaxants are natural.
Antidepressants are traditionally used for those who are diagnosed with clinical depression. They are best used along with therapy. They are not common drugs of abuse.
A 2014 report from Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation found that people with substance use disorders are more likely to abuse antidepressants. The report found that people misuse antidepressants by snorting or injecting them. That being said, this practice is not common.
Since antidepressants do not lead to the euphoria or sedation associated with most forms of drug abuse, they are not generally primary drugs of abuse. A mild level of physical dependence does form with prolonged antidepressant use, and people may experience antidepressant discontinuation syndrome when they stop use. Doctors often advise patients to gradually reduce their dosage when they want to stop taking the medication.
The Mayo Clinic states that some people opt for natural alternatives to antidepressants. It’s crucial to consult with your doctor before trying these alternatives.
Abuse of prescription medications carries significant risks to virtually every area of life. Avoid all prescription misuse and abuse by only taking medications as prescribed. Never take someone else’s prescription medication, and never mix your medication with other substances, including alcohol.
If you find yourself struggling with prescription drug use, we highly encourage you to seek help. If addiction is left alone, it will only worsen over time. Seeking help allows you to take the right steps towards recovery and a much healthier, happier life.
Withdrawal symptoms are a result of your body’s way of learning to function without a substance it’s grown dependent on. Prescription drugs become absorbed and remain active in the body for differing amounts of time. Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person depending on multiple factors.
The precise symptoms of prescription drug withdrawal, and the length of that withdrawal, vary based on the drug and severity of addiction. Withdrawal symptoms range from physical changes such as fatigue and headaches, to mental symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
Detoxification, also known as detox, is the process your body undergoes to rid itself of harmful toxins accumulated through substance use. Detox from addiction can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on your needs. During the detox process, withdrawal symptoms will arise. That is why it’s crucial to undergo detox in a medically supervised setting.
A dual diagnosis is given when an individual suffers from both addiction, as well as a mental health disorder. This is also referred to as co-occurring disorders. For example, an individual may have an opioid addiction while simultaneously having major depressive disorder. Addiction generally has mental and emotional underlying roots that require dual diagnosis treatment. Treatment will include a combination of evidence-based methods and therapies.
Inpatient treatment, also referred to as residential treatment, offers the most intensive level of care for members. Inpatient treatment requires the patient to live at our recovery center during treatment. There are many advantages to a residential program. For one, all of our members receive full access to all amenities, as well as a structured daily routine. Residential treatment also offers around-the-clock medical supervision and care. This form of treatment generally lasts anywhere from 28 to 90 days.
Outpatient treatment for prescription drug addiction is highly beneficial for those with obligations such as a child at home or going to work. We’ll create a personalized treatment plan and schedule that fits your needs so you can attend treatment while still taking care of your responsibilities.
There are three main types of outpatient programs: partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and standard outpatient programs. The three programs vary based on the commitment required by the recovering individual. Following scheduled treatment sessions at our center, the individual will be able to return home.
At Footprints Recovery, we’re here to guide you throughout the entire addiction recovery process. We believe in the personalization of each treatment plan and ongoing support throughout the recovery journey. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re waiting for your call.