For all the good they can do, prescription drugs can also be a significant problem in the wrong hands. Today, the nation is dealing with an epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. Known as opiates or opioids, these medications are causing a lot of people to take refuge in a prescription drug addiction rehab center. When certain anxiety and depression medications get thrown into the mix, it becomes clear this problem isn’t going away.
Phoenix Rising has a prescription drug addiction rehab program in beautiful Palm Springs, California.
How Does Prescription Drug Abuse Develop?
Prescription drug abuse is a gradual process that doesn’t happen right away. It typically develops after a doctor gives medication to a patient for a medical reason. This can include pain relief after an accident or a surgical procedure. Many people can take these medications for the duration prescribed and then feel fine. This isn’t the case for all prescription drug users, though.
Many prescription drugs produce feelings of relaxation, pleasure, and calm — feelings that temporarily bring peace to our minds. Naturally, if you don’t want these emotions to go away, you’ll keep taking pills to feel better about yourself. Sadly, this only lasts a short while, and these drugs can have a lasting impact on your body.
These medications should only be used as prescribed. However, in many cases, they’re used recreationally and for nonmedical reasons. People who abuse these might not think that they have harmful habits since they’re not shooting up heroin or doing cocaine. But prescription pill addiction can harbor serious consequences and ruin your life.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
When you know the signs of substance use disorder, you can get yourself to a prescription drug addiction rehab center for help. The earlier you know, the more likely you’ll have a successful recovery.
Common signs of drug dependence include:
- Inability to stop using: You can’t seem to stop using prescription meds despite wanting to cut back or stop completely.
- Tolerance: You have to take more and more drugs to achieve a similar effect.
- Loss of control: You can’t control how much you take or what happens when you take it.
- Withdrawal: If you abruptly stop taking prescription drugs, you experience painful symptoms like nausea, headaches, or even seizures.
- Focusing on the drug: Drugs take priority in your life over school, family, and work.
- Continued use with knowledge of consequences: Even though you know that abusing prescription meds is bad for you, you do it anyway. The high they produce becomes more important than your legal or financial troubles.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Plenty of people who take prescription drugs, unfortunately, end up abusing them. As mentioned earlier, this is a slow process. There are certain types of prescription drugs that are more prone to abuse than others.
The three classes of commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and CNS stimulants. Doctors closely observe these classes and try not to over-prescribe them due to their addictive qualities. Read more about them below.
Opioids and opiates are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs, and they’re responsible for many fatalities. Doctors prescribe opioids for chronic to severe pain, usually after a major accident or injury. They’re also used for anesthesia.
These medications derive from the opium poppy. Opiates derive from the opium poppy plant naturally. Opioids block pain receptors in the body, causing you to feel extreme euphoria and pleasure.
The feelings opioids produce make people feel highly addictive. For this reason, there’s an ongoing opioid epidemic in the U.S. Almost 450,000 people died from an opioid (both prescription and illegal) overdose from 1999 to 2018.
Even taking one large dose of an opioid can result in respiratory trouble or death.
The following is a list of common prescription opioids:
Codeine is one of the more mild opioids, used in cough syrups. It treats mild to moderate pain and can also be combined with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Morphine is also used for acute or chronic pain, and women sometimes take it while they’re in labor. This can be highly addictive because of its pleasure-enhancing properties.
This opioid treats moderate to severe pain and is a more potent kind. The prescription drug Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is highly abused in pill form.
Hydrocodone treats conditions similar to those that oxycodone does. The prescription drug Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Side effects of hydrocodone include nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids available, being 100 times more potent than morphine. It’s typically prescribed for cancer or chronic pain. It can be taken through multiple mediums, including orally, a nasal spray, and a transmucosal patch (absorbed through the cheek).
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are another popularly misused class of prescription drugs. These slow down bodily functions and are extremely helpful in treating people with anxiety and panic disorders. However, patients can get used to their calming effects and abuse them. People who don’t have anxiety disorders also enjoy the effects of these medications.
This class of drugs is used to treat anxiety disorders, stress, and panic attacks. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are normally prescribed for a short period due to their tendency for addiction. Although they all have a similar purpose, each of them is slightly different.
Prescription benzodiazepines include:
Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Although it’s effective for these conditions, it does come with a few side effects such as dry mouth, headaches, fatigue, and depression. It’s one of the most popularly prescribed medications in the U.S., and it’s taken by mouth.
Another widely prescribed benzo, Valium produces a calming effect. It treats muscle spasms, alcohol and benzo withdrawal symptoms, and seizures. Side effects include trouble with coordination and sleepiness. If used for too long, Valium can be habit-forming. It can be taken by mouth or injected.
Klonopin can treat restlessness, seizures, and panic disorder. It can be injected or taken by mouth. Some side effects include confusion, motor impairment, and loss of libido.
Ativan can be taken intravenously or by mouth. Used for seizures and anxiety disorders, it can produce side effects like low blood pressure, trouble breathing, and sleepiness.
Barbiturates and Sleep Aids
Although barbiturate use has declined in the past few decades, they are still occasionally used to treat patients with seizures and migraines. People who abuse barbiturates tend to feel intoxicated, drowsy, and disinhibited.
Popular barbiturates include:
Benzodiazepines have largely replaced barbiturates as sedatives.
There are other sedatives used to help people with narcolepsy or insomnia go to sleep. Even though they aren’t particularly addictive, they can be abused and patients can develop a dependence on them.
Sleep aids include:
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- Zalepon (Sonata)
Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants speed up certain functions in your body. These will release chemicals in your brain that produce feelings of reward and attention. Doctors will usually prescribe stimulants to patients struggling with attention-deficit disorder/attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD).
Stimulants do have positive effects, helping people better focus and be more attentive in their everyday tasks. However, stimulants can also be highly addictive, and people who don’t need them frequently abuse them. They have become increasingly popular on college campuses in the last 15 years as study aids. Students who feel pressured to do well in school might take stimulants to stay focused and perform better on exams. Misusing stimulants can also have fatal consequences.
Prescription stimulants include:
- Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
- Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics
About 52 million people in the U.S. abused prescription medication at some point in their lives. A 2017 study showed that about 18 million people have misused prescription drugs in the last year. In the same year, about 271,000 people abused sedatives, 1 million abused stimulants, and 1.5 million abused tranquilizers.
Young adults aged 18 to 25 abuse prescription drugs the most. More than 14 percent of people in this age group used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in the last year. Men also tend to abuse prescription drugs more than women.
Mixing Prescription Drugs with Alcohol
People who abuse prescription drugs also tend to mix them with other harmful substances like alcohol. This enhances the drug’s potency and can also put you at greater risk of overdose or death. If you already have an addiction to prescription drugs, adding alcohol to the mix can make this even worse.
You should never mix prescription drugs with alcohol. It’s easy to lose coordination, suffer from heart damage, and experience changes in behavior when you do this. You can also develop more serious health problems, including liver damage, internal bleeding, and brain damage.
How Can I Prevent Prescription Drug Addiction?
When you receive a prescription, make sure you follow your doctor’s rules exactly. You must follow the dosage and take it for the appropriate number of days. Once you no longer feel pain, you don’t need to take it.
Be aware of how the prescription drug could react when taken with another substance. Also, let your doctor know of any prescriptions you currently take before getting other meds.
Doctors and pharmacists should also take the necessary steps to combat prescription drug addiction, but only you can control what you do. It can be easy to fall into prescription drug addiction, which is why you should know how to prevent it.
Services Provided by a Prescription Drug Addiction Rehab Center
Anyone who has recently been to a prescription drug addiction rehab center offers knows that the treatment industry has changed. Many of the top rehab centers, including Phoenix Rising Recovery, now use evidence-based and holistic treatment options. To date, the results are quite good, which is necessary because of the influx of new clients coming in every day.
Treatment in a prescription drug addiction rehab center starts with a client evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation is to give staff members a profile of the client’s addiction and circumstances. If necessary, a facility clinician will also assign a new client to a drug detox center for assistance with the withdrawal process.
Upon safely finishing detox, the client will move into the counseling portion of treatment. While working with their counselors, each patient gets a chance to discover the truth about their addiction. If successful, there’s an excellent chance the client will leave the prescription drug addiction rehab center with a better set of coping skills. Better coping and life skills are the best way to assure the client can combat their triggers and temptation.
After Leaving A Prescription Drug Addiction Rehab Center
In the early days of recovery, many individuals are reluctant to trust their instincts. As they navigate everyday life, they also sometimes feel they need a little support to avoid relapsing. Due to this, a good prescription drug addiction rehab center will make sure clients leave rehab with access to aftercare resources.
Aftercare programs can encompass several options. In a pinch, the client should always have the option to participate in some kind of outpatient counseling. It could be like a maintenance program. For the longer term, the individual might want to participate in 12-Step meetings (NA & AA) for moral support. If the individual is simply not ready to take on a full slate of responsibilities, then a sober living arrangement might be in order.
During their time in a sober living home, the recovering addiction sufferer will have time to rebuild a structure for their life. At the end of the day, treatment is about finding recovery and then staying in recovery.
Finding A Second Chance at Phoenix Rising Recovery
From our prescription drug addiction rehab center location, we have built a strong reputation for providing great care. Our approach is simple. We start with standard addiction treatment programs and then infuse them with evidence-based and holistic treatment options. Our success comes as a result of us having quality treatment professionals delivering quality services. Our services menu includes:
- Partial Hospitalization Program
- Intensive Outpatient Program
- Standard inpatient and outpatient options
- Dual diagnosis treatment for coexisting conditions
- In-house detox programs
- Trauma-informed care
- Holistic options like equine therapy
If you have an addiction to your prescription drugs, then it’s time to fight back against your illness. The time you spend in a prescription drug addiction rehab center could be the only way back to normal. When you are ready to fight, we want you to give our Phoenix Rising Recovery facility in Palm Springs a call. By simply contacting us, you can make a difference in your own life.