Prescription drug addiction is becoming an epidemic in the United States, and the state of Florida is at the center. Many different prescription medications are abused, from prescription pain medication, including ones to aid with sleep (insomnia), central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and those with anxiety disorders. The ones mentioned above happen to be the most common.
Prescription medication abuse occurs when any medication is used in a manner or amount not prescribed by a doctor. It can also occur when patients skirt around laws to receive prescriptions from multiple doctors. This can result in serious side effects, addiction, or even death by overdose.
When someone becomes addicted to a prescription substance, they are using a drug meant to aid their well-being in a manner that can threaten their life. The epidemic of prescription medication addiction affects all ages and spans many different types of medications, such as benzodiazepines, which treat anxiety. Some of the most commonly abused medications are opioid painkillers (methadone, buprenorphine, etc.), stimulants, and mental health medications.
If you or someone you love have developed a prescription drug misuse, such as prescription opioids, it is extremely important to seek professional help. Detox, trauma counseling, or inpatient/outpatient substance abuse treatment care options may literally mean the difference between life and death.
At Miracles Recovery Center, we have the experience and care necessary to take you through this difficult journey from start to finish and get you back to being yourself. We utilize everything from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to group therapy to various life-skills training to help you get back on your feet.
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What Is Prescription Drug Addiction?
Prescriptions for thousands of different medications are written every waking minute in the United States. Many of them are necessary, helpful, and perfectly healthy. However, there is plenty that is dangerous and can even be deadly if not taken as directed.
Research shows that as many as 20 million Americans are currently using prescription medications in a manner or dosage that is not recommended. This number has continued to increase each year for the last decade, with opioid abuse becoming one of the most common addictions. Opioid overdose has also become a significant cause of death as well, and the opioid abuse epidemic continues to ravage communities across the country.
Prescription medications have been a godsend for millions of people and can be extremely beneficial when used correctly—however, even the best and most effective drugs work by altering your brain function and communication. Over time, these changes in brain chemistry can alter your judgment, habits, health, and relationships.
Misuse of prescription drugs can lead to serious side effects such as addiction, overdose, heart disease, and more. Just like their illegal counterparts, most prescription pills (especially pain medications) produce more cravings the more you use them. This is what leads to addiction.
Being a sedative means it slows down the bodily and brain functions. Typically, benzos are used to help with anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. Using benzos short term is usually safe, but long-term use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and other negative effects.
There is a natural chemical messenger in your brain (neurotransmitter) called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your body. GABA reduces the activity in the areas of the brain responsible for:
- Emotions and essential functions such as breathing
When a person feels anxious, the brain is overstimulated. When you take benzodiazepines, the brain sends messages to counteract the overstimulation. This reduces the symptoms of anxiety.
Benzodiazepines increase the effects of GABA on your brain and body, which means they can:
- Make you feel relaxed and sleepy (sedation),
- Reduce your feeling of anxiety, and
- Relax your muscles
What Are Some Commonly Abused Prescription Medications?
Any prescription pill can be abused if not taken in strict accordance with a physician’s orders. However, some categories of medication are significantly more likely to be abused due to their nature and habit-forming tendencies.
Over the last 20 years, opioid abuse has truly become an epidemic in the United States. During this time, doctors have been prescribing more painkillers in higher doses than ever before. Only in the last few years have the incredibly addictive tendencies of opioids been understood. The most commonly abused opioids are codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine. While many patients are beginning to intentionally avoid these dangerous medications, the opioid crisis is still very much a real problem.
All of the medications mentioned above can provide much-needed pain relief after surgery, an accident, or a similar painful situation. However, most opioid addicts had no prior experience with drug use, thus proving the dangerous, addictive nature of these drugs. Another risk factor is the short amount of time and the small amounts of drugs needed to produce an addictive response. When people are in significant pain, they are often unaware of the risk they are in by simply taking something to make the pain go away.
Opioid overdose is common due to misuse of these powerful pain medicines. This can have long-lasting consequences or even be fatal. Combining opioids with other substances (particularly alcohol) can be especially common and extremely dangerous.
Opioid use induces a mild euphoric feeling, and this can be effective in managing chronic pain. Many addicts use opioids in ways not intended, such as snorting or injecting, to reach the euphoric feeling faster. After a while, our bodies need more substance to achieve the desired effect. This is what leads to addiction.
Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
CNS depressants, such as Benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax), are used by many Americans to treat sleep issues, such as insomnia. These popular drugs are often prescribed by well-meaning doctors to help patients get a good night’s rest. These chemicals affect the brain by helping spur the production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This, in turn, makes us tired and crave rest. Other CNS depressants include barbiturates such as Amytal, Nembutal, Luminal, and Seconal. These drugs are often prescribed to treat seizure disorders.
There are excellent reasons for taking a prescribed CNS depressant. They can aid in achieving a much-needed night of sleep, help curb anxiety, or even lessen the likelihood of a seizure. However, before taking any medication, it is important to be aware of the potential danger. CNS depressants are especially dangerous when combined with other substances like alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.
Drugs in the stimulant category aid awareness, energy, and attention. They are commonly prescribed for disorders such as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD)/ Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Still, they can also be used to help with weight loss or some mental health disorders. Some examples of commonly abused stimulants include dextroamphetamine, Vyvanse, methylphenidate, and Adderall. Drugs in the stimulant class work by increasing the heart rate, and thus raising your blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Abusing prescription stimulants is most common among students or professionals that have deadlines or work in high-pressure environments. Stimulant dependence can occur very easily because these drugs do not often have many negative side effects and may actually increase efficiency in the short term.
Prescription Drug Abuse Symptoms
Signs of prescription pill addiction can vary greatly from person to person and can be extremely different depending on the drug being abused. Short-term symptoms can lead to serious long-term health problems if left unchecked, resulting in life-threatening situations and healthcare. Often, signs of abusing painkillers can present themselves as similar types of addiction, so it’s important to do your own research and talk to a professional addiction specialist.
Some of the most common symptoms of stimulant abuse are:
- Rapid weight fluctuation
- Dizziness or loss of motor control
- Paranoia or nervousness/anxiety
- Rapid changes in heart rate or blood pressure
Some common symptoms of opioid abuse are:
- Changes in heart rate and breathing patterns
- Slurred speech or blurred vision
- Dizziness or “head-spinning”
- Vomiting or constipation
Some common symptoms of CNS depressant abuse are:
- Mood swings
- Slowed reflexes and reaction time
- Short and long-term memory loss
- Loss of motor function or coordination
Detoxing From Prescription Drug Addiction
An addiction to any drug is difficult to overcome, and prescription pill addiction can be particularly hard. The first step in tackling a prescription drug addiction is often detoxification. “Detox” refers to the process by which the residual chemicals associated with drug use are expelled from the body.
The medical detox phase can look very different depending on what type of drug is being abused and how long the abuse has been going on. In general, the more of a substance that has been ingested, the longer the detox process might take. This phase can last anywhere from a few short days to a few months or more.
Detoxification is often accompanied by moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. These can include sweating, head and body aches, vomiting, and chills- among other things. Detox also takes a mental toll, and it is important that you not attempt to quit a serious prescription pill like opioid addiction without professional help, like that offered at Miracles Recovery Center.
Other Treatment Options For Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug addiction is a growing epidemic in our country, but there is hope. At Miracles Recovery Center located in Port Saint Lucie, FL, we understand that recovery does not look the same for everyone and that different people have different needs.
At Miracles Recovery, we offer intense inpatient or outpatient treatment plans in order to best meet your needs. If you or your loved one requires round-the-clock care due to substance abuse-causing substance use disorders or health conditions, our inpatient treatment center will take incredible care of you from start to finish.
If you crave the freedom to come and go and have a support group system at home to aid in recovery, you may want to go with our intensive outpatient addiction treatment program.
Whichever program you decide is right for your needs, you will be met by caring, licensed professionals who truly have the best interest of their patients at heart.
If you, your loved one, or your family members require treatment programs for prescription drug addiction treatment, allow Miracles Recovery to come alongside you today. You will be glad you did!