Overcoming Prescription Medication Addiction
Prescription medications often seem safe to take. After all, your doctor wrote a prescription for you based on their assessment of your condition. Unfortunately, some prescription medications present the danger of addiction, even if you use the medication exactly as your doctor prescribed. More unfortunate still is that the addictive properties of the drugs can make it difficult to monitor your use; you may start wanting to use them outside of the recommendations of your doctor.
Prescription Medication Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse pinpoints just how bad prescription drug abuse is in the U.S. In 2017, 18 million people misused these medications at least one time. That includes 2 million people who misused prescription pain relievers for the first time. In addition, more than one million people have misused prescription stimulants; 1.5 million have misused tranquilizers; and 271,000 have misused sedatives.
Why Does Addiction to Prescription Medications Happen?
You are in a car accident. You have a bad injury requiring surgery. Your doctor prescribes painkillers to alleviate the pain. However, the injury leads to chronic back pain, leading you to continue using the painkillers in increasing amounts.
This is a typical situation with painkiller addiction. Here is another one:
A college student who wants to be able to have fun with friends and score the highest grades possible to maintain their scholarship may turn to stimulants to help them do it. One option is to get a friend’s prescription for a stimulant like Adderall. Another option is to purchase the medications illicitly without a prescription. Over time, addiction develops.
In any situation, prescription drug addiction is highly dangerous. It leads to several complications:
- Tolerance: Many types of prescription drugs, including opioids that work as painkillers, cause tolerance. That means you need to use more of the drug over time to get the same results from it. The more you take, the higher the risks are for overdose.
- Dependence: The drug changes the way the brain and body communicate, leading to a triggering of the pleasure center in the brain. As this occurs, your body becomes dependent on the drug, wanting more and more of it. You cannot stop using.
- Addiction: Addiction forms when you recognize that continuing to use the medication is risky and puts you in danger in some way. Nevertheless, you continue to do so.
Because of the risks associated with prescription medication abuse, most doctors recommend not taking these medications for longer than required and, whenever possible, to avoid using them if alternative options can work just as well.
How to Stop Using Prescription Medications Safely
The key to remember is that not all prescription drugs create these risks. The most commonly abused drugs (those that create addiction) according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse include:
- Opioids: These are used to treat pain, including both chronic (long-lasting) and acute pain
- Stimulants: These drugs are used to treat conditions such as ADHD
- Central Nervous System Depressants: These drugs work to treat sleep disorders and anxiety (they include sedatives, hypnotics, and tranquilizers)
If you are taking any of these drugs, do not just stop doing so. Speak to your doctor first. Ask for alternatives. Discuss your concerns about addiction.
How Do You Know You Have a Prescription Drug Addiction?
The other complication with prescription drug addiction is that you may need those medications. You may not know if you have an addiction to them or if your body just requires them. Here are a few key warning signs that can indicate addiction:
- Running out of your prescription before you should
- Craving more of the drugs before your next dose is due
- Needing to purchase drugs illicitly
- Using prescriptions that are not yours
- Feeling anxious about the drug if you don’t use it
If you experience withdrawal when you do not have access to the prescription medication, that could be a sign of an addiction. Again, do not simply stop taking the medication.
How Is Prescription Medication Addiction Treated?
At Victory Addiction Recovery Center, we work closely with you to determine the best course of action in treating your prescription drug addiction. That means working to break dependence and tolerance if they’ve developed.
We offer treatment programs that can help you through this process. For many people, that starts with drug detox, a process that safely removes the toxins from your body and breaks down dependence. It helps you to gain mental clarity.
Some people do not need detox and start with inpatient treatment. Others move from detox to inpatient treatment. The goal here is to ensure you are getting the support you need as your body and brain work through your addiction. We’ll incorporate a range of therapy methods including both individual and group therapy to help you overcome your addiction and learn how to manage it.
You may also benefit from outpatient therapy and an intensive outpatient program. Over time, our aftercare programs will support you as you get back to your life.
Take the first step in overcoming your prescription drug addiction. Reach out to our team at Victory Addiction Recovery Center to learn how we can help you.
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