What is Prescription Drug Addiction?
Prescription drug addiction is a very real problem in the United States that can affect anyone who has been prescribed strong painkillers, stimulants, or sedatives. Prescription drug addiction has some sobering statistics:
- In 2015, approximately 19 million Americans over the age of 12 misused prescription stimulants, pain relievers, tranquilizers, and sedatives.
- Nearly 13 percent of illicit drug users first used prescription pain relievers.
- Although the southeastern U.S. experienced a slight decline in controlled prescription drug (CPD) use in 2017, the region still ranks highest among all areas of the country for CPD abuse.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in 2015, there were nearly 100 opioid overdose deaths each day from both prescription and non-prescription sources.
- In 2017, the National Drug Threat Survey reported that CPD use is higher in many areas of the U.S. than methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and PCP combined.
- In 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicated that young adults reported greater nonmedical use of prescription drugs than other demographics.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports in a 2013 study that more than 70 emergency room visits for drug abuse or misuse by teens between 12–17 were a result of pain relievers, either prescription or non-prescription.
- SAMHSA studies also indicate that more than 25 percent of adults over 50 use prescription medication with the potential to be “misused or abused.”
If you suspect that you or a loved one is misusing prescription drugs, seek help now. Our facility in Monroe, near Atlanta, GA, is well equipped to help those addicted to prescription drugs detox and then engage in a treatment program that will explore underlying causes of the addiction and provide education in alternate ways to treat issues like chronic pain and anxiety.
Why is Prescription Drug Addiction Difficult to Detect?
The primary reason is perception. Prescription medication authorized by a healthcare professional is supposed to have a measure of control. After all, it was issued for a reason, and as long as someone is under a doctor’s care, there’s no harm.
However, the danger lies in the development of a compulsive drive to continue using meds beyond the scope of care. Then the possibility of abuse grows due to the following factors:
- Pain is subjective. Few of us can truly understand the level of physical, mental, or emotional pain someone may experience, and physicians rely on truthful accounts from patients to assess need.
- Co-occurring disorders may prompt misuse. The Washington Post reports a new study links opioid misuse with mental health disorders. In fact, the study indicates, more than 50 percent of opioids prescribed annually are to patients suffering depression and anxiety. Inflation of perceived symptoms as a result of these co-occurring disorders drives prescription drug abuse.
- It’s easy to camouflage dosage. If someone has six cocktails within a two-hour party, people are bound to notice. If that same person takes three pills instead of one more times per day than prescribed, it’s more difficult for another person to spot that misuse. That same individual might exaggerate pain symptoms for more medication, and the cycle of abuse continues.
What are the Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction?
The symptoms of addiction vary by person and substance, but here are some key signs of prescription medication abuse:
- Hidden medications. This means they could be in various places aside from the medicine cabinet for access away from prying eyes.
- False reporting of use. For some people, this could be simply lying to a physician to get more medication. For others, this may involve lying about what they’re taking, how frequently, and how much.
- Additional prescriptions. People suffering with addiction may be compelled to visit multiple doctors in order to get more medication.
- Preoccupation with use. Some people become agitated, frustrated, or anxious about when they’ll be able to take more medication. They may also lose interest in other activities they used to enjoy due to the desire to use.
- Cognitive or behavioral changes. Certain drugs may present marked changes in someone’s ability to concentrate and communicate. There might also be a noticeable difference in sleep and eating patterns, personal care habits, and regular activities such as school or work.
- Inability to handle withdrawal. Most physicians recommend that certain medications have a graduated level of usage, especially for pain medication. If someone refuses this care directive, it may be a sign of addiction.
Many people also forget that it’s just as easy to experience a prescription drug overdose as an illicit drug emergency. Often, an overdose doesn’t look like it does in the movies: certain drugs present different warning signs. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the red flags of medication overdose and call 9-1-1 or seek immediate medical care.
How is Prescription Drug Addiction Treated?
Another common misconception about prescription drug addiction is it’s harder to recover from it, especially if there’s an underlying condition.
Remember, addiction is a brain disease that’s treatable. Often this means getting to the root causes of abuse. For example, if someone is experiencing chronic pain from an underlying health condition, there may be other body therapies that help manage that pain effectively without the use of medication. Our experts understand that addressing any co-occurring issues greatly increases the potential for lifelong wellness.
Treatment at Twin Lakes Recovery Center begins with a medical detox, in which our team provides round-the-clock care to help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal as well as the physical or emotional pain that might surge as the drugs leave your system. Detox is followed by residential or intensive outpatient care that each provide therapy, education, and relapse prevention strategies. Our family program ensures that your loved ones understand how addiction works and how to best support you when you return home. To learn more about what we offer, contact us today.