The phrase “drug addiction” is often associated with illegal substances, like cocaine or heroin. But prescription medicines may pose an even greater danger because they are prescribed by a doctor and people assume these substances are safe. Unfortunately, more and more people are developing dependencies on medications they have been prescribed for pain and other issues.
Not everyone needs drug treatment because of prescription medications, of course, but if it has happened to you or to someone you love, it’s important to know that there is help available. Whether you’re seeking inpatient or outpatient rehab, you can find a drug addiction treatment plan that will work for you at Lake Wellness Center.
The most frequently abused prescription medicines are pain pills, especially the class of drugs known as opioids. Just like opium and heroin, opioid pain pills are derived from the poppy plant. To understand the connection between pain pills and addiction, it’s helpful to know how these substances affect brain chemistry.
Opioids are produced by the body naturally, and they bond with brain receptors to suppress pain and trigger the production of dopamine, a chemical that’s associated with a euphoric feeling, like the “high” some people get from running or other exercise. However, the body doesn’t produce enough opioids on its own to deal effectively with serious or chronic pain.
When people take an opioid painkiller, the opioids in the drug are much more effective at blocking out the sensation of pain than anything the body can do naturally. Opioids also do a better job of releasing dopamine and produce a much more intense feeling of pleasure.
When people experience this powerful combination of pain relief and euphoria, it is natural for them to seek that sensation again and again. However, people can quickly develop a tolerance for pain pills, meaning that the positive effect of a single dose decreases over time. This is why many pain sufferers take more of a prescribed medication in order to get the same benefits. As they take higher doses, they may find that they have become dependent on the medication and can’t stop using it without substance abuse treatment.
According to data from drug abuse treatment centers, the most commonly abused drugs fall into three classes: opioids, depressants and stimulants. All of these substances can be legally prescribed by a doctor, and most addicts are introduced to these medications as a result of a medical need.
Opioids are the most commonly abused class of prescription medications, and they are prescribed for pain relief. Examples of opioid pain medications include morphine, codeine, methadone, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Some of the common commercial names of opioid medications include Oxycontin, Lortab and Percocet.
The most commonly abused stimulants are the ones most often prescribed for ADD or AD/HD: Ritalin and Adderall. They promote mental alertness and ability to focus; in fact, college students may take these medications in order to study all night for a test. However, Adderall, Ritalin and other stimulants can also cause severe side effects, including nervousness, an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and seizures.
These medications are prescribed for problems like anxiety and insomnia, and they have a calming effect on the body and mind. Depressants include barbiturates, such as Nembutal and Seconal; benzodiazepams, such as Ativan and Valium; and sleep aids, such as Ambien and Lunesta.
The consequences of substance abuse can be severe. One of the most common dangers of drug addiction is unpleasant or painful symptoms. Addicts are also likely to suffer personal and legal consequences. Tragically, abuse of prescription medications can also lead to overdose and death.
In the case of opioids, addicts may suffer nausea, constipation and an increase in pain symptoms. Sedative abusers may become dangerously drowsy in situations where they need to be alert, like while driving a car, and they may also experience memory loss. People who become addicted to stimulants put themselves at a higher risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
When the need for a drug is the number one priority in someone’s life, other important things like relationships, work, finances, and even personal safety can fall by the wayside. Many people who end up in drug treatment programs have lost jobs, damaged relationships with family members, and gotten into financial and legal trouble as a result of their actions.
Of all the risks of abusing prescription medications, an overdose is the most serious. As the opioid epidemic has spread over the past two decades, more and more people die from an overdose every year. Deaths often result from combining prescription medications with other legal or illegal substances.
Drug addiction treatment is available in different forms, but most drug rehab centers offer a medically supervised detox followed by a period of inpatient or outpatient rehab services designed to help addicts learn other coping mechanisms and repair the damage their substance abuse has caused. In some cases, patients move into a sober living arrangement after rehab where they can practice their newfound coping skills.
During the detox period, the patient is weaned off the addicting medication under a doctor’s care. The doctor will not only make sure the patient’s withdrawal symptoms are minimal and well-controlled, but other safer medications may be prescribed to ease the process and to treat any pain or other symptoms the patient is suffering.
After detox, addicts will need ongoing therapy and support in order to maintain a sober lifestyle. Some patients may choose to remain in a clinical environment for a period in order to focus exclusively on becoming sober. Patients who need to go back to work or take care of young children may decide for intensive outpatient services. Outpatient treatment can include individual, group and family therapy, chronic disease management, and management of other mental health issues.
Addiction is a problem that exists in every community, no matter how large or small. If you google “drug rehabs near me,” chances are you’ll find a variety of options to choose from. But not all rehab facilities are equal in quality or in the number and variety of services they offer. People seeking help should research their options to find the one that will best meet their needs.
The following are a few things to consider when choosing among the options.
Different facilities handle detox in different ways. Some may offer only out-patient detox services, requiring patients to visit a doctor’s office or clinic for regular monitoring. Others offer medically monitored in-patient detox, meaning that the patient stays in a facility with 24/7 medical monitoring until detox is complete. Other facilities offer more intensive drug-treatment for patients who are struggling not only with detox but with other mental health issues. Thus, it’s important to find out if the facility you’re considering offers the level of care that you or your loved one needs.
One thing to inquire about is success rates and how success is measured. Some addiction treatment programs may count success as 28 days of sobriety, while others may look at long-term abstinence. Consider your own definition of success and how well it fits with the program’s definition.
Individual counseling is a crucial component of rehabilitation at drug abuse treatment centers because it helps addicts understand the roots of their behavior and learn more productive coping mechanisms. Counseling can also help patients to regain self-esteem and to repair damaged relationships. Some counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, to help patients change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Another effective approach is known as dialectical behavioral therapy, which helps patients deal with violent and self-destructive emotions.
It’s also important to look at the variety of services offered to help patients learn the life skills that will help them stay sober for the long haul. For example, some drug abuse treatment facilities include a nutritional component to help patients resist cravings and improve their overall health. Other desirable services may include evening and weekend counseling sessions, family activities, and a spiritual approach to recovery.
With the right treatment plan, it is possible to overcome prescription drug addiction. Contact one of our consultants at Lake Wellness Center today to learn more about our individualized approach.