It’s simple: Doctors prescribe medicine to treat us when we have a legitimate medical issue. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable after an injury or surgery. Too often, though, seeking relief from our ailment(s) can lead to an unintended consequence: addiction.
It happens all too easily: downing an extra pill for good measure, or taking the next dose sooner than the scheduled time because you don’t want your symptoms to become unbearable. Another slippery slope begins with asking for another person’s medication, simply because you forgot your prescription or had a sudden, difficult episode.
For many, the euphoric effects of prescription drugs become enjoyable and a way of escape. They continue taking the medication long after their symptoms subside. Alternating between reality and euphoria can feed one’s addiction on a psychological level, and even physically, as well. Soon, the desired result is harder to achieve, leaving individuals to always need more – and more will never be enough.
Prescriptions Drugs by the Numbers in the United States
Prescription painkillers are more prevalent than tobacco use in America, pointing to an opioid epidemic. In fact, roughly 38 percent of adults in the United States use painkillers (whether legally or illegally), with an estimated 2.2 million suffering opioid addiction.
Those figures are no surprise considering there has been a 400 percent increase in opioid prescriptions over the last 10 years, enough to fill one prescription for every adult in the country. In fact, the U.S. accounts for nearly all the world’s opium consumption, by way of opioid prescriptions and heroin, that is.
The consequences? Dire, to say the least. An unprecedented 28,000 Americans died in 2014 from opioid overdose, more than double the death rate from 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The opioid epidemic has led to an explosion in heroin abuse, with 80 percent of new heroin users who started with prescription painkillers. Unfortunately, the negative side effects and deadly potential consequences fail to deter many a user.
Prescription Drug Treatment Options
Counseling is almost always the first step toward recovery. A licensed drug and alcohol counselor is your best resource for crafting a recovery plan and offering support to family members.
Addiction specialists help you discover what made you susceptible to dependence in the first place. They help you develop the skills and strategies necessary for becoming clean – and staying that way. Addiction specialists work with you and your family on rebuilding healthy relationships and avoiding situations where temptation could be an issue. If relapse occurs, addiction specialists are there to get you back on the right track.
Medication therapy may also be needed to quell the effects of withdrawal. Symptoms from detox medication range from mild to severe, but with proper management, you can overcome the initial hurdle and greatly reduce your risk of relapse.
For the Patient
The beginning is the hardest part. Those who struggle with addiction also might struggle with shame, fear and regret. So often, these negative emotions overpower any effort to break free of them. The longer individuals struggle, the more enmeshed they become in the destructive cycle. The danger lies in the loss of hope, when people no longer think recovery is possible.
That’s why the mindset of an addict is crucial. Once patients make a commitment to beat the addiction, they are already on the path to success. They should seek out strong individuals who will support them in recovery and not expose them to tempting situations where a relapse could occur.
For The Family
No one is ever prepared to confront a loved one about substance abuse. It is hard enough to watch a loved one suffer, but often friends and family fall victim, too. They must bear the brunt of unstable moods, disorderly behavior and unkind words. Their feelings are hurt and they become exhausted from the stress. Professional counselors can help families learn how best to support and love their family member through this challenge.
What Are the Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs?
Opioids top the list. Once a term used only to refer to synthetic forms of opium, opioids is now the generally accepted term for all the drugs in that family, whether they are synthetic, natural or a hybrid of the two (semi-synthetic).
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax take the second spot, as they were involved in nearly 8,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2014. Side effects of benzodiazepines can include troublesome symptoms such as:
Continue reading to learn more about these and other prominent prescription drugs.
These naturally derived drugs have been in use since ancient times for pain relief and, more recently, as anesthesia during surgery. The Chinese began using opium recreationally more than 500 years ago, a practice that was later prohibited. Some forms of opiates, such as heroin and morphine, were sold as over-the-counter medications in the U.S. as recently as the early part of the 1900s. Opiate use can lead to nausea, vomiting, liver damage and other serious complications. Learn even more about opiates by clicking the following button.
Tranquilizers such as Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) account for tens of thousands of rehab admissions in the U.S. each year. Although benzodiazepines (aka benzos) are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia and more, medical professionals still don’t precisely know how these drugs work within the brain. Benzodiazepine addiction recovery can be especially slow, requiring close management with the help of a health care provider.
OxyContin is the brand name of a powerful synthetic drug – one that is capable of easing terrible pain, but also of causing terrible problems. It short-circuits the pleasure centers in the brain, often leading to dependence. Overdosing can lead to respiratory failure, coma and death.
Codeine, morphine, fentanyl and analogs work in the same manner as oxycodone, which is the generic form of OxyContin. Oxycodone can deadly when not handled properly. Oxycodone use can cause nausea, vomiting, sweating and mood changes.
Let’s Beat the Addiction
Addiction may be an epidemic, but it doesn’t have to claim any more lives. We can work together to end its death clutch on our families, communities and nation. Those who are severely gripped by the psychological and physical dependence of prescription drugs do not have to settle for a life of addiction. There is hope and a way out of the fog.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment in Maryland
Maryland Recovery offers unique and highly successful ways to recover from prescription drug addiction. Our facility is located just outside of Baltimore in the picturesque town of Bel Air, where we offer recovering addicts affordable program options such as Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient treatment. Our therapists are trained to address a litany of prescription drug addictions, and we cater to dual diagnosis patients. Learn more about our methods of treating various forms of addiction by clicking below.