Addiction to prescription drugs is a growing problem in the U.S. and worldwide. According to SAMHSA’s Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 18 million people in the U.S aged 12 and over had misused prescription drugs in the previous year.
There is a wide range of prescription drugs with a high potential for abuse. These drugs generally fall under three categories:
Opioids | Benzodiazepines | Stimulants
One of several causal factors in this growing problem could be a lack of education around the dangers of these drugs. A worrying number of people misuse their prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are issued for a specific reason, and misuse of these drugs means that a person uses them outside of the doctor’s recommendation – either too frequently or in too high a dose.
When people misuse any drug, they place themselves at risk of developing a dependence, according to Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. Dependence means that the body needs the drug to function properly. If dependence is left unresolved, then a person will likely develop an addiction. When this happens, quitting the drug can be monumentally difficult, and depending on the drug, addiction can be fatal.
Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction
Many prescription drugs are opioid-based. According to the Drug and Alcohol Review, opiates have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Examples of prescription opioids include:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
Opioids are not the only prescription drugs that are abused. Rehabilitation centers around the world are seeing clients enter treatment for addiction to prescription benzodiazepines and stimulants. Benzodiazepines, like opioids, are depressant drugs. This means that they slow down activity in the central nervous system (CNS), as explained by The Ochsner Journal.
Common benzodiazepines include:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
According to the Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, opioids and benzodiazepines are particularly dangerous when taken along with other substances, such as alcohol, for example, as this is also a depressant. If a person uses opioids or benzodiazepines along with alcohol, they risk dangerously slowed breathing and a drop in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to death, accoridng to the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Stimulants are also common prescription drugs that are abused. Prescription stimulants are typically given to adults or children who have ADD or ADHD.
Examples of prescription stimulants include:
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse?
There are a wide range of symptoms that accompany prescription drug addiction. Symptoms vary depending on the drug, how much is being used, frequency of use, and the individual’s physiology.
The following are some general signs and symptoms that a person is abusing prescription drugs:
- A tolerance to the drug (more is needed to achieve the desired effects)
- Running out of the prescription before the end of the course date
- Ordering the same or similar medication online
- Taking the medication in higher doses or more often than recommended
- Doctor shopping – visiting multiple doctors to get the same prescription
- Frequently ‘losing’ prescriptions
- Cravings for the drug
- Forging prescriptions
- Continuing to use the drug despite clear negative consequences
- The onset of withdrawal when drug use is stopped
- Mood and level of anxiety or stress related to the availability of the drug
If you notice these signs of abuse in a loved one, please contact us at Excel to seek guidance. We can advise you on how best to approach this challenging situation. Confrontation without tact is rarely the best approach and can cause frustration and anger in your loved one. At Excel, our team of recovery specialists are on hand to help appropriately manage your situation.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it is essential to reach out for help. These early warning signs, when left unchecked, can develop into an addiction and can significantly disrupt your life. At Excel Treatment Center, we are dedicated to tackling addiction at its root cause, which varies widely among clients. The first step towards recovery is reaching out for help. Once you do, we can offer comprehensive treatment programs to support you or your loved one in their recovery journey.
Our team of skilled recovery specialists are fully trained professionals who can help you manage your recovery from day one and see you through to the end of primary treatment and beyond.
What Are the Causes of Prescription Drug Addiction?
Addictions often develop as a result of ‘positive reinforcement’, claims a report in Neuropsychopharmacology. This is a psychological process whereby a person is driven to take the drug repeatedly to achieve a biological ‘reward’. Positive reinforcement is particularly common among people who already struggle with another condition or disorder. These drugs can give temporary relief and provide an appealing break from the symptoms of the pre-existing condition.
When prescription drugs are misused, users achieve a ‘high’ in the form of relaxation, pleasure, mild euphoria, increased concentration, or significantly reduced anxiety and depression.
According to The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, genetics may also play a role in the onset of addiction. If a person has an immediate relative suffering from substance abuse, then that person is at a higher risk of developing an addiction themselves.
A third common factor in developing an addiction is a person’s environment, according to a report in Military Medicine. If an individual is exposed to substance abuse in their early years, the behavior may become normalized, and the dangers associated with misuse will seem less dangerous. If a person is surrounded by peers who use drugs, they are also more likely to misuse them. In addition, the experience of stressful life events such as sudden loss or trauma can increase a person’s likelihood of substance misuse.
Prescription Drug Addiction and Co-occurring Disorders
Addiction is already a complicated condition to treat. Treatment becomes more complex when the client is suffering from an underlying or pre-existing disorder.
The journal Social Work in Public Health reports that disorders that often co-occur with substance abuse include:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or other stress-related conditions
In addition to positive reinforcement and genetic and environmental factors, an attempt to self-medicate can also cause addiction. Attempts at self-medication may provide some short-term relief from the existing condition but only serve to worsen the condition in the long-term and increase the likelihood of addiction.
Pre-Treatment Screening and Assessment
At Excel Treatment Center, we provide every client with an initial mental health screening and assessment before creating an individually tailored treatment program. Identifying other conditions allows us to tailor our recommendations to suit our client’s personal circumstances and give them the best chance of success.
Medically Supervised Detoxification and Withdrawal Management
for Prescription Drug Addiction
At Excel Treatment Center, we can offer comprehensive, medically supervised detox and withdrawal management for each client. This is a crucial step in the recovery process. If you attempt to stop using prescription drugs without professional help, the consequences can be dire, even fatal. In cases of opioid or benzodiazepine abuse, extra care must be taken in detox, and these drugs need to be tapered off slowly, as explained in the journal Australian Prescriber. Attempting to stop using stimulants suddenly after a prolonged period of use can exacerbate the psychological damage that has already been caused by these drugs.
Excel’s detox and withdrawal programs offer clients a safe and supervised environment in which they can begin to recover from addiction.
Detox at Excel involves:
- Clinical support led by medical professionals
- Medically assisted detoxification
- Medical supervision and assistance throughout the withdrawal stage
- Emotional and psychological support
Beginning on the road to recovery is not easy. At Excel, we help clients get through this stage as smoothly as possible. We provide all the necessary support required to help you or your loved one cope with the trauma of substance abuse and the difficulties and overwhelm that come with stopping.
What We Offer at Excel Treatment Center
Our treatment and recovery experts at Excel are equipped with decades of professional experience in addiction treatment and recovery. This means that we can offer clients expert-led treatment programs, each individually tailored to the unique needs of each individual.
Following detoxification and withdrawal, we provide a wide range of outpatient treatment services led by our highly-skilled team members, which includes:
- Recovery coaches
Recovery is a collaborative effort between therapists and clients. We help those struggling with addiction tackle their condition at its core. We offer a range of therapies that aim to empower the individual and help them develop the skills necessary for a successful recovery.
Therapies offered at Excel include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- One-to-one counseling
- Group therapy
- Family-based therapies
- Holistic therapies (creative and experiential therapies)
Each client that takes part in Excel Treatment Centers outpatient treatment program receives comprehensive, non-judgmental compassionate care and support throughout their treatment and into aftercare. Each program is customized so to suit the unique needs of each client, and recovery with Excel is client-centered, meaning clients are involved in the decision-making process throughout their treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug addiction, please reach out for assistance. We’re here to help and support you every step of the way.