Prescription drugs are causing more overdose deaths in the United States than alcohol or any illicit drug. As doctors prescribe more medication than ever (particularly opioids such as methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin) overdose deaths due to prescription drug addiction have quadrupled since 1999. In 2014, more than 14,000 people died from a prescription opioid overdose in the United States.

Prescription drug treatment is available at Unity Behavioral Healthcare for people who are suffering. Read on to learn about prescription pills that are commonly abused, as well as quality prescription drug treatment that can help you.

From Relief to Addiction

Of all hard drug addictions, prescription drug addiction often has the most innocent beginnings. Some prescription drug addictions start due to a condition as mild as persistent back pain, although many dependencies stem from a type of pain, that is either chronic or severe or both. After taking the same medication for a certain amount of time, patients can get accustomed to the way that it makes them feel, which turns into wanting the drug and eventually needing it, even after the initial pain may have subsided.

With prescription drugs, an individual often becomes addicted long before he or she is even completely aware of it. This denial is commonly one of the first obstacles that must be overcome in order to address a prescription drug abuse disorder. This is especially difficult when patients are given access to drugs by doctors who are trusted authority figures.

One of the purposes of addiction treatment is to uncover your patterns of substance abuse.

With prescription drugs, an individual often becomes addicted long before he or she is even completely aware of it. This denial is commonly one of the first obstacles that must be overcome in order to address a prescription drug abuse disorder. This is especially difficult when patients are given access to drugs by doctors who are trusted authority figures.

Can I break free of prescription pill dependence?

Millions of Americans are struggling with prescription pill abuse and addiction every day. Our addiction therapists at Unity Behavioral Health have created several courses of treatment to help patients gain control of prescription drug dependence.

HELPLINE: 561-708-5295

Patterns of Prescription Drug Addiction

One typical behavior of someone in the early stages of prescription drug dependence is “doctor shopping.” This entails making appointments with various medical professionals and seeking multiple, concurrent prescriptions for the same or comparable drugs. In these cases, the condition used to justify the prescriptions may or may not even still be present but, the patient still feels the need for the drugs nonetheless.

Alternate sources for prescription pills can include:

  • Friends, either freely given or stealthily taken
  • Black market dealers
  • A connection that has access to prescription medication at his or her workplace

Once a prescription drug addiction has developed, substance abusers are at further risk of damaging their health as dealers will put anything in their products to increase their profits.

This means that many prescription pills sold on the street can contain an entirely different set of harmful ingredients while being indistinguishable from the pharmaceutical version.

Reliance on street dealers can also make it much easier for users to switch to other harmful street drugs, like heroin, as the price of their prescription drug addiction increases.

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

With prescription drugs so easy to obtain, it’s no wonder that they’re some of the most commonly abused substances on the market. Even if they were obtained legally and used as directed initially, the way in which they react to the body can result in chemical dependency and ultimately lead to addiction.

There are several different types, or classes, or prescription drugs, each with their own type of chemical reaction on the brain.

Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly used and abused prescription drugs and how they react chemically to the body and the brain.

Stimulants

Stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin are prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders and narcolepsy. When taken as prescribed, stimulants usually pose a minimal threat to patients.

However, when a patient takes larger, more frequent doses or increases the potency by crushing the prescription and snorting it, they take on a high risk of becoming addicted. At this point, prescription drug treatment may be required.

People who take stimulants typically feel a rush of energy, increased stimulation, and euphoria. As dependency continues to grow, many people who are hooked on stimulants turn to “harder” drugs like cocaine in order to get a more intense high. On the street, cocaine is usually cheaper to obtain than prescription stimulants, adding to its popularity.

Opioids

Opioids such as methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin), oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet), and hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin) are prescribed to treat pain. The risk of developing an addiction to prescription opioids is drastically reduced if the regimen only calls for usage over the short-term.

This is not to say that those with short-term opioid prescriptions won’t develop an addiction, but the majority of opioid addictions stem from long-term prescriptions which, unfortunately, are often necessitated by chronic pain.

The most common forms of ingestion for opioids are injection, snorting, or swallowing. Many people who grow dependent on opioids turn to heroin when they either run out of their prescription or are seeking a stronger “high.”

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines (also called benzos) such as lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax) are sedatives used to treat anxiety and convulsions.

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants act on the concentration of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, reducing its frequency of occurrence, which produces a relaxing effect in the patient. However, patients can quickly become tolerant to these medications, requiring larger and larger doses to achieve the degree of drowsiness produced by the initial amount.

This is a dangerous characteristic possessed by many addictive substances. Additionally, benzodiazepine patients must gradually taper their usage leading up to the end of their prescriptions if they wish to avoid a potentially life-threatening withdrawal.

The sedative effect of these drugs, as well as their addiction-forming chemical properties, makes them ripe for abuse. While abusing drugs can be dangerous no matter the substance, the effects of abusing benzos are particularly bad.

Due to the way they react to the CNS and the speed at which tolerance can be built up, benzodiazepine withdrawal can be particularly dangerous and even life-threatening.

Sleep Medications and Barbiturates

Barbiturates are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. While they used to be widely prescribed in the 1960s and 1970s, they are not as commonly prescribed as they used to be, thanks to the growth in popularity of benzos. Like benzos, barbiturates are known as CNS depressants, enhancing the action of GABA.

While barbiturates aren’t as commonly used anymore, they are still used to treat certain ailments, including extreme cases of insomnia, seizures, the prescription drug abuseinduction of anesthesia, and in combination with acetaminophen and caffeine to relieve tension headaches.

Barbiturates are commonly abused by teens and adolescents. They are used as “downers,” meaning they are often used to counteract the stimulant effects from drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), are used to treat common sleep disorders. They can either be prescribed or even purchased over the counter to help people who have trouble sleeping naturally.

People who commonly use sleeping pills can grow incredibly dependent on them, making them potentially dangerous, especially in those people who might suffer from addiction. This can lead to long-term health issues including memory problems, mental and behavioral disorders, learning problems, and the worsening of already existent insomnia symptoms.

Can Prescription Drug Abuse Lead to Other Addictions?

Eventually, prescriptions run out and there is no way to get more, at least legally. Many people who find themselves addicted to prescription drugs will find other ways to obtain the drugs that they need. With the prices of prescription drugs so high on the street, many will turn to other, cheaper drugs that will provide similar effects.

Some of the most commonly used and abused drugs among those that got addicted to prescription medications are opioids such as heroin. People who find themselves hooked on prescription drugs turn to opioids because it provides them the same effects they felt when taking their prescription drugs. They can also be obtained for less money than prescription drugs on the street.

Can I Break Free From Prescription Pill Dependence?

Millions of Americans are struggling with prescription pill abuse and addiction every day. While it might seem impossible, you can overcome your addiction or dependence on prescription pills with the right tools. You don’t have to continue to allow prescription drugs to run your life.

Our addiction therapists at Unity Behavioral Health have created several courses of treatment for prescription drugs to help patients gain control of their dependence.

Prescription Drug Treatment at Unity Behavioral Health

Our licensed staff at Unity Behavioral Health will determine the best course of prescription drug treatment for you. We’ll perform a thorough evaluation to observe the length and severity of your addiction, and we’ll also take note of your medical history.

Once this is complete, you’ll undergo medical detox, which will cleanse your body of all the harmful toxins prescription drug addiction has produced. Medical professionals will be there to supervise you around the clock, and they’ll mitigate painful withdrawal symptoms that are likely to result from detox.

After detox is over, we recommend that you participate in one of our many aftercare programs, which include individual, family, and group therapy. We also provide some alternative treatment programs like yoga and tai chi, as well as nutrition coaching and life skills therapy.

Are You in Need of Prescription Drug Treatment?

If you, or someone you know, needs treatment for prescription drug addiction, please contact us. We can help you get back to the time before your condition and subsequent dependence defined your life. Unity Behavioral Health can show you healthier and more effective ways of treating your root illness. We are a comprehensive recovery center located in scenic Hobe Sound, FL, specializing in drug and alcohol dependence, mental illness, and dual diagnosis. Please give us a call today to learn more.

References:

https://www.rxlist.com/sleep_disorder_medications/drug-class.htm

https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/barbiturates.html

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/15308-sleeping-pills

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