One of the most alarming rises in drug abuse in recent years has been that of prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s last report showed 52 million Americans admitted to using prescription drugs non-medically; numbers have further skyrocketed since then. Some people may not have even been prescribed these drugs themselves and are instead taking them from somebody they know. Others take these drugs in higher amounts than intended by doctors and may even go to more than one doctor to receive higher amounts of the drugs.
Those who abuse prescription drugs put themselves at an increased risk for a host of difficulties. The abuse may cause personal family problems, such as lost custody of a child or a divorce. There is also a higher risk for suicide, accidents and overdose. Other problems attached to prescription drug abuse can include financial issues, loss of a job, loss of interpersonal relationships and incarceration. Some dangerously view these substances as being safer than certain illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin but this is not the case. Prescription drugs can cause addiction just as easily as illicit drugs if they are abused.
Whether a young adult is using prescription medications for studying purposes or an older adult is misusing them, this epidemic continues affect a growing number of people.
The symptoms of prescription drug abuse tend to varying according to what type of medication a person is using.
Opioids may cause physical effects such as perspiration and constipation. They may also cause heart difficulties, such as decreased blood pressure and a slower breathing rate, reduced or compromised coordination and more. Opioids may include drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin, as well as illegal substances such as heroin.
Anti-anxiety medications cause disorientation such as dizziness and drowsiness. The drug abuser may walk erratically and may appear to be confused. Involuntary eye movements may also present themselves. These drugs may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Paxil, Zoloft and Lexapro.
Stimulants may lead to weight loss and heart difficulties. As opposed to opioids, stimulants can cause a person’s heart rate to be irregular and blood pressure to rise. The user can be easily annoyed and prone to sleep deprivation. These drugs include pain relief medications such as Excedrin, as well as caffeine and tobacco.
There are also more general symptoms that apply to prescription drug use. These symptoms can include:
- Stealing or selling the drug(s) of choice
- Taking higher doses of a medication than prescribed
- Changes in mood
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Problems with making decisions
- Doctor shopping (seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors to gain access to higher amounts of medications)
When an individual becomes addicted to a prescription medication, the best this to do is to seek out an effective treatment program. Treatment for prescription drugs may be a lengthy and uncomfortable process but it is worth it. The recovery process will normally start with detox and then move to the use of therapy and, if needed, medication.
The length and intensity of the detox process for those withdrawing from prescription drug abuse will vary according to what medication was being abused. Some will be more intense than others and withdrawal symptoms will vary. Be sure to talk to a doctor about what to expect when detoxing and, if needed, find a good detox program to ensure one’s safety during the process.
For those who need medication during the treatment, what medication is used will vary widely and will depend, again, on what was being abused. For example, if a patient is recovering from opioid abuse, then this may require treatment drugs such as Suboxone. This will help to make the symptoms of withdrawal more tolerable.
Most individuals will also make use of different therapeutic options during their treatment process. This will help them learn new coping methods for dealing with triggers and cravings. Therapies that have proven effective for those recovering from prescrion drug abuse can include Cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness, Equine therapy and more.
Unfortunately, the millions who abuse prescription drugs show just how pervasive the problem is. Many doctors are naturally concerned, yet patients should be as well. Medication is to be taken as directed and those who misuse will be taking both dangerous and unnecessary health risks if they choose not to follow a regimen.
To find out more about prescription drug addiction or how to get help, you can call Prescription Drug Addiction Help at any time to speak to a member of our team.