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Prescription Addiction: An Overview

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reveals that over 16 million Americans above the age of 12 misuse prescription drugs annually. 2 million of the people abusing prescription drugs, roughly 12%, have a prescription addiction. It’s alarming to note that 82% of the misused prescriptions include opioids, like fentanyl.

Opioid abuse accounts for over 57% of prescription abuse cases, involving over 9 million Americans who deliberately misuse their prescriptions at local pharmacies. Statistics further reveal that prescription drugs rank fifth amongst the most abused stimulants, ranking below alcohol and tobacco-based stimulants. Around 1 in 10 people misuse their prescription drugs to “get high” or achieve a state of euphoria.

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What is Prescription Addiction?

Prescription addiction develops when a prescription medication is misused without adherence to the guidelines given by the prescribing physician or medical practitioner. Abusing a prescription drug triggers a series of complications, depending on how the medication is abused. For instance, some people consume more than the prescribed dosage to gain relief from a painkiller or use the painkillers prescribed to someone else.

It’s also common for people to misuse prescription medication by ground-up the pills and snorting or injecting them into the bloodstream. People misuse opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription drugs to induce a state of euphoria or calmness, otherwise known as “getting high.” Abusing prescription drugs sets the stage for prescription addiction because these medications are highly addictive, triggering a compulsive pattern with far-reaching health implications.

It’s pertinent to note that prescription addiction is common across all age groups, from adolescents to seniors. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include anxiety medications, opioid pain-relief drugs, sedatives, and brain stimulants. People also abuse central nervous system (CNS) depressants and benzodiazepines to misuse their tranquilizing effects to induce a state of high.

Xanax, medically termed alprazolam, is a popularly misused anti-anxiety drug. In recent years, the misuse and abuse of stimulating amphetamines like Adderall and Ritalin have alarmed researchers and medical practitioners. High school and college students abuse Adderall, prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to improve their academic performance.  

Amongst opioids, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone are the most widely misused prescription drugs. Do you suspect a loved one of misusing or abusing fentanyl? Experts believe that early detection and timely interventions are crucial to prevent misuse from turning into a full-blown prescription addiction. We suggest finding a reputable facility to stage an intervention with a comprehensive fentanyl addiction treatment without delay.

Timely treatment can help the patient from falling into a compulsive pattern of bodily dependency and relapsing.  

 

What Are The Signs of Prescription Addiction?

A prescription addiction manifests itself through a vast host of physical and behavioral symptoms. These physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms reduce the patient’s life quality and intensify the compulsion to continue abusing drugs with acute bodily dependence.

Some common physical manifestations of abusing opioids include:

  •  A state of mental confusion or disorientation

  • Inability to relieve pain with high doses

  • Drowsiness and fatigue

  • Recurrent nausea

  • Constipation and digestive complaints

Some signs of abusing central nervous system (CNS) medications include:

  • Poor concentration

  • Slow breathing patterns

  • Compromised mobility and bodily coordination

  • Slurred speech

  • Dizziness

  • Memory loss

Abusing stimulants for an extended period can trigger the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Irregular heart rate

  • Feverishness

  • Hypertension

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What Are The Effects of Prescription Addiction?

Opioids, anti-anxiety medications, and stimulants slow down breathing patterns and heart rate alarmingly, to the extent that breathing stops altogether, inducing a state of coma or eventual death. Anti-anxiety medications and tranquilizers are commonly linked with memory loss, slowed breathing, and dangerously low blood pressure levels.

Patients who misuse these medications cannot stop abruptly as it can trigger lethal withdrawal symptoms, like seizures, hallucinations, and brain hyperactivity. Stimulants increase body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure levels, heightening the risk for seizures, paranoia, hallucinations, and aggressive behavior.

A prescription addiction alters the patient’s behavior and attitude towards relationships, responsibilities, and life in general. The addiction or compulsion to consume prescription drugs takes center stage in their priorities while everything else is neglected.

Patients diagnosed with or suspected of prescription drug abuse experience alarming mood swings, and quitting or delays in consumption make them irritable. They begin neglecting their domestic and professional responsibilities, be it studying or work.

Common behavioral manifestations of prescription drug abuse include:

  • Frequent visits to the restroom

  • Anxiously requesting early refills for their prescription drugs

  • Visiting multiple physicians or doctors to renew their prescription

  • Finding illegal means to source prescription drugs without consulting a doctor

  • Going outside at odd hours of the night

  • Changes in regular routines and work schedules
All drug-related addictions or substance use complications make patients isolated and alone. This social isolation is mainly triggered by mood swings, heightened irritability, and a tendency to lash out at family, friends, and loved ones. Prescription addictions trigger a pattern of denial and anger, which is catastrophic for romantic relations.

How is Prescription Addiction Treated?

Prescription addictions latch onto the mind and body by creating a physical dependence that sustains the addiction by compelling the patient to continue using. This physical dependence occurs because these prescription drugs, especially opioids and sedatives, activate the reward center within the brain. Quitting abruptly is strongly ill-advised, and patients must undergo a comprehensive prescription addiction treatment.

After long-term misuse of prescription drugs, the body may need a medically-assisted detoxification process to overcome its tolerance and dependence on the drug. The body becomes adjusted to obtaining regular doses of the drug, and failure to provide this dose can trigger debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Addiction specialists manage these withdrawal symptoms with a controlled detoxification process.

Once the detox is completed, patients can explore various therapies to treat the addiction. Most common and effective treatments include the 12-Step Facilitation Program, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), and Contingency Management.

Clinicians and addiction specialists typically combine many different forms of therapy treatments so that patients overcome physical dependence and transform their mindsets to adopt healthy lifestyles.

How We Can Help You Break Free From Prescription Addiction

All addictions are treatable, and willpower, unlike most believe, does not play a decisive role in the treatment. Much like treating a chronic illness, overcoming substance use addictions demands a comprehensive medication plan, therapeutic techniques, and patience. The road to recovery begins with finding the right treatment facility and rehabilitation program. Cornerstone can be that program for you. 

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