Often, we associate our thoughts on addiction with alcohol, or harder substances such as cocaine. However, prescription drug use accounts for a large percentage of people seeking treatment. What often starts out as harmless, or even a doctor-prescribed necessity, can end in addiction. For this reason, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse so you or someone you know doesn’t become another statistic.
Who Is At Risk of Addiction?
According to the FDA, between 21% and 29% of those legally prescribed painkillers are at risk of addiction. Of those, an estimated 1 in 10 will turn to a harder “street drug” like heroin. Although not everyone who uses prescriptions will become addicted to their medications, many people do. Sadly, prescription drug dependency is a growing problem. Thankfully, treatment options are expanding as well, and medically supervised detoxification is more safe and available than ever.
Prescription drug addiction can affect anyone from any background or walk of life. No one plans for an injury that requires serious painkillers, and in turn, many people are not prepared for the psychological pull of powerful medications such as hydrocodone. Although anyone who uses prescription drugs is potentially at-risk, certain factors can lead to a higher rate of dependency.
Sometimes, we cannot control our nee for a certain prescription, but we can set healthy boundaries and follow set guidelines. Preventing addiction or misuse requires an active treatment plan with your physician as well as the accountability of friends or family. If you think you or someone you love may already be struggling with an addiction, please know it is never too late to seek help!
One of the best ways to preemptively combat addiction is to understand the role and danger of certain medications. In turn, the best way to maintain a healthy relationship with prescription drugs is to understand their use and the lines that can be crossed. As you learn about how these drugs develop a dependency, you will also gain an understanding of helpful treatments available for those in need.
Types of Prescription Drugs
There are several different classes of prescription drugs, with each one affecting the body in different ways. Although these various drugs have the ability and purpose to help someone, they can also lead to harmful addiction. It is extremely important to understand the proper use of these medications and how they affect the body/how they can lead to addictive tendencies.
A few of the most commonly prescribed pain medication categories are barbiturates, benzodiazepines, narcotics, stimulants (such as Adderall), and opiates. Opioids or opiates (such as Oxycodone) are often used to treat pain-chronic or acute. Those suffering from chronic pain are more likely to use powerful medications such as codeine and are thus at a higher risk for addiction.
Other commonly prescribed drugs, such as Valium or Adderall, are used to treat mental health issues like depression or ADDHD. These drugs, while less likely to be abused, can still develop dependency and require usage under strict supervision. Commonly prescribed stimulants, such as Adderall, are often abused by college students or professionals trying to find an “edge” or maybe just stay awake.
While some prescription drug categories (mainly painkillers) are more addictive than others, all prescriptions should ONLY be taken as directed and under the supervision of a licensed medical professional.
How Does Prescription Drug Addiction Begin?
Most people begin using prescription drugs for valid medical reasons. Perhaps they are dealing with a mental health condition or the fallout from a sports injury. In this day and age, there are helpful medications for just about any ailment someone can experience-mental or physical.
In a perfect world, we would diagnose an issue and receive a helpful, not at all dangerous prescription drug to push us towards healing. However, occasionally these medications can do more harm than good, and addiction results.
So, how does addiction begin? Generally, drugs are prescribed with good intentions and are meant to bring healing, not more pain. Understanding the chemicals found in these addictive substances and how they work on the brain is key to understanding the roots of addiction.
Nearly all prescription medications can develop dependency if they are not taken as directed. Most can become addictive if consumed in large quantities. If prescription meds are not used correctly or are misprescribed, a patient’s body can begin to develop a tolerance for the said drug.
Tolerance occurs when more and more of a substance is needed to produce the desired effect. The pain relief of codeine or the focusing effects of Adderall can become harder and harder to achieve. After a while of even prescribed usage, the body can become tolerant of just about any substance, even those meant to help us.
As a result of tolerance, more and more of a substance is needed to achieve a result-leading to dependency and addiction. At the point of dependency, doses may be more significantly more than the doctor recommended and can even be life-threatening.
This vicious cycle is perpetuated as dependency leads to overdose which leads to addiction or even death. As dependency develops, users may begin to experiment with additional substances to more easily achieve a high.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction
Those who struggle with prescription drudge addiction or misuse will inevitably display physical and psychological symptoms, despite their best efforts. Often, these individuals will become more secretive in general in an effort to hide their increasing drug use. It is extremely common for addicts to begin withdrawing from various relationships and daily responsibilities such as work or school.
These symptoms, while occasionally generalized, can vary wildly based on a person’s disposition, level of addiction, or the substance used. Increasingly, drug misuse leads to other risky behaviors such as driving under the influence of drugs or lying often to cover up their behaviors. While they can vary by person, some of the most common physical and behavioral symptoms of drudge abuse are as follows:
- Breathing problems
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems
- High blood pressure
- Lack of concentration
- Poor decision-making
- Risky and unsafe behaviors
- Sleeping problems (i.e. insomnia)
- Problems with balance and coordination
Prescription Drug Withdrawal
The physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal can prove startling and even dangerous if faced alone. However, with the help of the trained professionals at Silver Linings Recovery Center, the daunting task of recovery can be attacked head-on, with confidence and confidentiality.
Stopping the use or abuse of prescription drugs is only the beginning of a long and often painful process-but it is the first necessary step. However, quitting “cold turkey” can lead to relapse or extreme physical symptoms.
When you stop using any type of substance, especially after long-term use, your body can become extremely ill and produce a gamut of withdrawal symptoms.
For instance, opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers act on the brain neurotransmitter dopamine that incites feelings of pleasure of fearlessness. The sudden discontinuance of opioid use can lead to lower natural dopamine production, in turn often leading to physical pain or extreme anxiety and depression. Common drug withdrawal symptoms can include but are not limited to the following:
- Extreme sweating
- Hot and cold flushes
- Changes in appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Poor concentration and memory
The Importance of Detox in Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
Medically supervised detoxification, like the type provided at Silver Linings, can help you safely withdraw from any level of prescription drug addiction. The symptoms mentioned above can often escalate to life-threatening levels, and heaving a trained physician on hand can prove invaluable. Medically supervised detox allows you to recover from dependency while receiving professional, safe, confidential care.
There are many ways to achieve successful detox, but all are safer under the care of our trained specialists. Occasionally, detox drugs such as benzodiazepines may be used to lessen the difficulty of the withdrawal symptoms. However, these detox drugs can prove problematic on their own right, reinforcing the need for medical supervision.
Attempting detox without medical supervision can lead to seizures, overdose, or even death. If you or someone you leave seem to be in need of medical detox, seek help today!
It is Never Too Late to Begin Your Journey to Sobriety!
However hopeless an addiction situation may seem, it is never too late to begin a journey towards recovery. At Silver Linings Recovery Center, we are committed to helping you every step of the way-from assessment, to payment to treatment. Our trained professionals will walk with you through the entire recovery process and our state of the art facilities will provide comfort on your journey. Contact us today to see how we can help you reclaim your life!