Prescription drug abuse is the most rapidly growing drug addiction there is. While medications can provide relief from pain, anxiety, and depression when used as prescribed, they can also be potentially dangerous and addicting. Prescription drugs should always be treated with caution and only used under the care of a trusted physician.
Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drugs are used for many different physical and emotional ailments. Some people need medications to treat pain, anxiety disorders, insomnia, ADHD, depression, and mental illness. While these drugs can be very beneficial to patients when used as directed, they can also be very dangerous.
When these prescriptions are overused or misused, they can cause a feeling of euphoria, which can lead to addiction. They can also cause serious side effects and even death. Combining prescription drugs with other prescriptions, with other street drugs, or with alcohol is a common practice, but it is one that can be deadly. People begin to use more and more of the drugs over time, which puts them at greater risk for overdose. The CDC released a report in 2013 that highlighted the dangers of prescription drug abuse. It found that drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990. In fact, more people die each year from prescription drug abuse than from car accidents.
Prescription drugs are relatively easy to obtain, adding to the danger of these substances. Doctor shopping is a common way to obtain these drugs, but other individuals are able to order prescription drugs online or on the street, go to pill mills to obtain prescriptions, or steal drugs from friends and family.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the reasons teens cite for using prescription drugs are:
- 62%: Easy to get from parent’s medicine cabinets
- 52%: Available everywhere
- 51%: They are not illegal drugs
- 50%: Easy to get through other people’s prescriptions
- 49%: Can claim to have prescription if caught
- 43%: They are cheap
- 35%: Safer to use than illegal drugs
- 33%: Less shame attached to using
- 32%: Easy to purchase over the internet
- 32%: Fewer side effects than street drugs
- 25%: Can be used as study aids
- 21%: Parents don’t care as much if caught
Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics
SAMHSA reports that 52 million people in the US over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. According to a study done by the University of Texas, the number of prescription medicine abusers in 2010 was 8.76 million. Most abused prescription drugs fall under 3 categories:
Painkillers: 5.1 million
Tranquilizers: 2.2 million
Stimulants: 1.1 million
Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
Because there is such a variety when it comes to prescription drugs that are abused, the warning signs vary from individual to individual. Those that use stimulants like amphetamines will show a dramatic increase in energy, reduced appetite, irritability, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. Prescription tranquilizers cause sleepiness, depression, confusion, and trouble remembering things. Prescription painkiller abuse causes depression, low blood pressure, confusion, constipation, and shortness of breath.
The following signs should serve as warnings to family and friends that an individual is abusing prescription medications:
- Frequent change in health care provider
- Frequent requests for refills of prescriptions
- “Losing” or “misplacing” medications
- Crushing or breaking pills
- Forged prescriptions
- Using multiple pharmacies
- Ordering prescriptions online
- Stealing pills or borrowing prescriptions
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug addiction recovery should take place in a facility that specializes in such rehabilitation. In order to recover and put one’s addiction behind them, they must first detox from their substance. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and cause side effects such as aches, pains, nausea, and fatigue. It can also be dangerous and even deadly. Certain prescription drugs, such as tranquilizers, can cause seizure, coma, and severe tremors and confusion that can lead to death if not treated properly. For these reasons, it is recommended that anyone in need of prescription drug detox consult a professional and never attempt to withdraw from these substances cold turkey or on their own.
Prescription drugs should always be treated with caution and only used under the care of a trusted physician The facilities My Recovery Helper works with specialize in the safe and effective detox from prescription drugs. We offer different programs for different individuals, based on the person’s need and drug history. While some individuals require or want medical intervention to make detox more endurable, others want alternative relief such as acupuncture or yoga. We work with individuals to provide the type of detox that is right for them.
Likewise, our treatment programs for prescription drug recovery vary, based on the individual’s wants and needs. Some people are more receptive to group-based therapies like psychodrama or other role playing methods, while others need to first process the reason and causes of their addiction by working one-on-one with therapists.
In order to fully recover from a prescription drug addiction, it is necessary for the person to not only withdraw from their substance, but to retrain their mind and body to work without the substance. Different therapies can help rehabilitate the individual so that they can overcome the cravings to use, and replace the unhealthy drug addiction with healthy habits.
Prescription drug addiction can easily take over an individual’s life, causing strain on relationships and interactions with those around them. Recovery is possible, and with the right kind of treatment, individuals can learn to leave this addiction behind. To learn more about My Recovery Helper and how we can help you get your life back on track, contact us at 844.867.6835 today.