Prescription Drug Addiction

Misusing prescription drugs is when a person takes medication for reasons other than what it’s prescribed. Most people take their prescriptions responsibly. However, approximately 52 million individuals (20% aged 12 and older) take them for nonmedical reasons at least once.

Some people may need certain medications to treat sleep disorders or chronic pain. However, many of these medications are highly addictive narcotics. Even if the medication is doctor prescribed, the substance can still be misused and produce many side effects. Many risk factors are commonly associated with taking narcotics, including opioids.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Most people associate abusing drugs with illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine. However, prescription drug addiction with prescription medications (i.e., tranquilizers, sleeping pills, pain relievers, etc.) is far more common

Drug dependence can be physical or psychological. It’s an uncontrollable desire to experience a drug’s euphoric effects. Dependence can also be the need to use a drug to prevent unpleasant withdrawal effects.

A person’s body builds up a tolerance to a drug with repeated use. So the person must increase the dose to achieve the same results. Drug tolerance is this effect. Commonly misused prescription medications include sleep medications, opioids, and stimulants.

When a person becomes physically dependent on the substance will go into withdrawal if they stop using the medication. The person will need to taper off the substance slowly and under the supervision of a professional. By detoxing from the drug responsibly, severe withdrawal symptoms can be avoided. 

People can also taper off of the drug through some form of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is when a treatment provider prescribes a patient medication to ease their withdrawal symptoms during detox. Therefore, minimizing the risk of a patient leaving treatment early or relapsing to avoid withdrawal symptoms. 

Signs of Misusing Prescription Drugs

Drug addiction symptoms will vary depending on the substance the person has been abusing. Additional factors include how frequently they use the drug and the length of their addiction. 

Common signs and symptoms of prescription drug misuse include:

Certain experts believe that more people are misusing certain medications because there are more of them available. Healthcare professionals report writing more prescriptions today than they have in the past. Additionally, it’s simple to find internet pharmacies that sell these medications online.

Teenagers may take pills out of their parent’s medicine cabinets and misuse them or offer them to their friends. Often, teenagers don’t know what type of medications they’re taking and which medications can cause severe effects. Especially if they use the pills with alcohol or other drugs. Many teens believe that because medications are prescribed, it makes them automatically safe to use.

Dangers of Addiction to Prescription Medications

Misusing prescription drugs can lead to numerous issues. Certain medications can be particularly dangerous when misused. They can even cause death if taken in high doses or combined with other substances. 

There has been an increase in prescription drug abuse across the country in recent years. This increase has led to more emergency room visits and overdose deaths. Drug overdose-related deaths from prescription opioids increased from 3,442 deaths in 1999 to 17,029 deaths in 2017. 

Some consequences of prescription drug abuse include:

Sedatives and anti-anxiety medications can lead to low blood pressure, memory problems, and slowed breathing. Overdose can lead to coma or death. Stopping the medication abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and nervous system hyperactivity.
Opioids can lead to a slowed breathing rate, low blood pressure, and the potential for breathing to cease altogether. Overdose on opioids can cause coma or death.

Stimulants can lead to heart problems, dangerously high body temperature, seizures, tremors, high blood pressure, aggressiveness, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Much research has shown that a substance use disorder is a brain disorder that can be effectively treated. However, treatment needs to take the type of drug into account as well as the needs of the patient. Several components must be incorporated into successful treatment, including detox, medication, and counseling or therapy. Patients sometimes require multiple courses of treatment to make a complete recovery.

The two primary treatment categories for prescription drug addiction are behavioral treatments (i.e., cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management) and medication. Behavioral treatment helps individuals stop drug use by changing their unhealthy thinking and behavior patterns. This approach offers incentives for abstinence and teaches strategies to manage cravings. 

Behavioral therapies can help people improve their ability to function in the community and at work and enhance their relationships.

Medication-assisted treatment is often used. For example, prescription opioid addiction can be treated with medications, which include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

These medications help ease cravings and symptoms of withdrawal (methadone and buprenorphine) and prevent other opioids from impacting the brain (naltrexone). This allows the individual to avoid relapse. Medication-assisted treatment is often combined with behavioral therapies and psychosocial support.

We Are Here to Help

If you or a family member is struggling with prescription drug addiction, it’s time to consult a professional. Turning Tides Treatment Center can provide effective treatment and quickly get you or your loved one on the path to lasting recovery.  

At Turning Tides Treatment Center, we aim to help our patients find long-term recovery from addiction. We use evidence-based approaches to treat substance use disorders and mental health conditions.

Contact us today to set up your consultation with our experienced prescription drug addiction professional.

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