Addiction to Prescription Drugs Explained

Perhaps you're concerned that you might have an addiction to prescription drugs. Or, maybe you have been using prescription drugs for quite some time, but you didn't know addiction was possible. Either way, it's so important for you to get information on this topic.

Prescription drugs are medications that are prescribed by a doctor. They're used to treat various conditions. While they are extremely helpful, they are also very dangerous. One of the reasons for this is because they are assumed to be safe. This fact alone contributes to the misuse of them.

Getting as much information about prescription drugs as you can will give you insight into your own drug use. It's even possible that you have a prescription drug addiction without realizing it.

List of Addictive Pills That May be in Your Medicine Cabinet

There are so many addictive pills that might be in your medicine cabinet right now. Some of these drugs are labeled addictive, but many of them aren't. If you have any of the following addictive pills in your home, you could be at risk.

  • Adderall
  • Ambien
  • Amytal
  • Biphetamine
  • Codeine
  • Concerta
  • Darvocet
  • Dexadrine
  • Darvon
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Lunesta
  • Luvox
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Opana
  • Oxycodone
  • Percocet
  • Paxil
  • Ritalin
  • Sonata
  • Strattera
  • Suboxone
  • Vicodin

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states there are three classifications of prescription drugs that are likely to cause addiction. These are opiates, central nervous system depressants and stimulants. Unfortunately not all of these drugs are labeled as addictive. This means many are becoming addicted to them unknowingly.

Do you see any of your medications on this list? If you do, it's so important for you to get the correct information. You may have already formed an addiction to your medication.

Prescription Drugs Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics and Facts

Prescription drug abuse and addiction has officially been called an epidemic in the United States. The problem has gotten severely out of hand, and it has led to a growing number of addictions.

To make matters worse, many people are venturing into heroin abuse and addiction. This is because so many addictive pills are similar to heroin. When people can no longer obtain their prescriptions, heroin serves as a suitable substitute for them.

Prescription drug addiction statistics tell us that:

  • In 2009, there were 7 million Americans who reported current nonmedical use of prescription drugs.
  • This is more than the number of people using hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined.
  • Prescription drug abuse now ranks in second place among illicit drug users.
  • In 2009, there were 2.2 million people who used pain relievers for the first time for nonmedical reasons.
  • Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are believed to be the biggest abusers of prescription medications.
  • In 2014, more than 1,700 young adults died from prescription drug overdoses.
  • These overdoses were mainly due to opioid drugs.
  • As of 2012, the number of overdoses that involved prescription opiates has increased to close to 17,000 per year.

The outlook is not good for prescription drug abuse and addiction. It is a problem that continues to get worse. Getting the word out about the dangers of these drugs is so important.

Identifying What Prescription Drug Abuse is

Taking any prescription medication in a way that's different from how it was prescribed is abuse. There are many different ways that prescription pills can be abused. These include:

  • Taking a drug that was prescribed for someone else
  • Taking a larger dose of a drug than is needed or prescribed
  • Taking the medications in a way that is different than how they were prescribed
  • Using prescription drugs for the purpose of getting high
  • Purchasing prescription medications online for use, without a prescription

Someone who is abusing prescription drugs may or may not be aware of their addictive potential. The longer a drug is abused, the higher the chance that it will lead to a prescription drug addiction.

If you are abusing prescription medications, there are some signs you can look for. These signs are clear indicators that the drugs are not being used as intended.

Some common signs of prescription drug abuse include:

  • Having problems with short-term memory
  • Exhibiting slurred speech
  • Problems with coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Signs of depression, and possibly even suicidal thoughts
  • Feelings of aggression or agitation
  • Frequent headaches
  • Digestive issues, such as constipation
  • Bouts of dizziness

Someone may experience all of the above, or just some of these signs. When using prescription medications, the presence of even one of these symptoms could indicate abuse.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

It is so important to differentiate between an addiction and abuse. Many people aren't sure what sets them apart from one another. You may feel the same way.

Prescription drug addiction is very different from prescription drug abuse. However, these two are often confused for one another. When someone is addicted to prescription drugs, that person feels a need to take the drug.

Without the prescription drug of choice, the individual may claim to not feel right. At this point, the medication may be used to get high, or it may just be seen as a necessity.

If you're addicted to prescription drugs, you may take great care to be sure you don't run out. You may think about your medications nearly all the time and using them becomes your top priority.

It's important to be able to recognize when prescription drug abuse has become an addiction. There are a number of signs you can look for that indicate that you have a drug addiction. These include:

  • Not being motivated to do anything
  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities that you once really liked
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Experiencing cravings for your prescription drug of choice
  • Needing to increase how much of your medication you take to get the same effects
  • Not being as productive as you once were at work or in school
  • Experiencing relationship problems because of your drug use

Have you noticed any of these in your own life? If you have, you may have an addiction to medication that has been prescribed to you. If you're still not sure, taking an addiction quiz can give you a little more clarity.

If you are addicted to prescription pills, all hope is not lost. You're not destined to stay in the active addiction forever. You can get help to recover.

It's possible that you're not concerned about your own use of painkillers or prescription drugs. You're actually worried about a loved one who is using these medications.

So many families have loved ones that suffer from prescription painkiller addictions. Or, they may suffer from other types of prescription drug addictions. If this is your situation, you may feel at a loss as to what you can do to help.

You may want to try to have a conversation with your family member about the problem. If you decide to do this, gather as much information as you can beforehand. You'll want to find facts and statistics on prescription drug abuse and addiction. Even so, you should be prepared for your family member to become angry or defensive.

If nothing seems to change, you may want to consider an intervention as your next step. Interventions can be very effective, and they frequently encourage people to get addiction help.

Most people become addicted to prescription medications because they took a drug that was prescribed for them. However, there are those who become addicted to these medications because they use them recreationally.

Even so, people start abusing prescription drugs for a number of reasons. Many people like the way the medications make them feel. Once those initial effects begin to wear off (also known as forming a tolerance), they take more to achieve them.

Some believe that prescription medications help them cope with past traumas or other mental health conditions. In this way, they are using the drugs to self-medicate what is known as a co-occurring disorder. Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions all fall under this category.

There could be many reasons why prescription drug addiction occurs because people are all different. What's most important is knowing how to recognize it, and when to seek help.

There are certain factors that put some people at a higher risk of prescription drug addiction than others. While anyone could become addicted to these drugs, these circumstances have shown to make a big difference.

You have a higher risk of prescription medicine addiction if you:

  • Have a personal history of addiction
  • Have a family history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Are a younger adult
  • Have pre-existing mental health conditions
  • Are frequently exposed to peer pressure
  • Have easier access to prescription drugs
  • Don't know much about how harmful prescription medications can be
  • Are an elderly individual, or a senior citizen

Do you fall into any of these categories? If you do, your risk of prescription medication addiction is high.

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The Effects of Prescription Pill Addiction on the Mind and Body

Even though prescription pills are thought to be safer than illegal drugs, they are not. In fact, in some cases, they can be even more dangerous. When a prescription drug is abused, it can have a profound effect on the body.

All types of prescription drugs can lead to both short-term and long-term effects. These, of course, will vary, depending on what type of drug is being used. The effects these drugs have are both physical and mental.

When someone is using prescription drugs for a short period of time, there are some short-term consequences. Even if it has only been a few weeks, you may find that you are experiencing:

  • Constipation or other digestive difficulties
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Bouts of confusion
  • Excessive drowsiness and fatigue
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Weight loss
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Problems with sleeping at night

The longer you use prescription pills, the more dangerous the effects of them can be. With some types of prescription drugs, the effects can even be life altering.

If you have used these drugs for a long time, you might be experiencing:

  • Hypotension, or low blood pressure
  • A slowed breathing rate, or possibly respiratory depression
  • Serious memory difficulties
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Bouts of paranoia
  • Heart problems
  • The onset of seizures
  • Anxiety or depression that can lead to suicidal behaviors

It's important for you to know that these medications come with serious risks. Long-term use is even likely to lead to kidney failure, liver problems and the risk of a coma.

If you've been using prescription drugs for a long time, and you have an addiction, you may be in danger. These drugs may seem to be safe, but they are not. It's so important for you to stop using them right away and get the help you need to recover.

Can You Overdose on Prescription Drugs?

You can overdose on prescription drugs, and many people do. Thousands of people suffer from fatal overdoses each year due to their prescription medications. That number is increasing with every passing year.

Quite often, people overdose on these medications because they try to stop taking them on their own.

They may find out that they have addictions, and as a result, they panic. Many people never intend to become addicted to prescription drugs. Their addictions happen on accident. They make a quick decision to just stop taking them abruptly.

When you stop taking prescription drugs cold turkey, your body can go into a state of shock. Prescription drug withdrawal symptoms can begin very quickly. This can lead you to go back to using your medications.

Unfortunately, when people relapse in this way, they take a too much of their medicine. They don't realize that they can no longer tolerate such a high dose. As a result, they overdose.

A prescription medication overdose can happen to anyone. If you have been taking these drugs, and you quit taking them on your own, your risk is high.

Your risk of a prescription drug overdose is much lower when you recover in a supervised, professional setting. In this situation, you are very likely to be weaned off the drug slowly. This helps your body adjust to not having it in your system. It reduces the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and boosts your chances for a successful recovery.

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Common Prescription Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Prescription drug withdrawal is very difficult to deal with. These symptoms strike after a medication has been stopped. Every drug and drug classification has its own list of withdrawal symptoms. Still, there are some similarities.

Some common prescription drug withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Experiencing racing thoughts
  • Shakes and tremors throughout the body
  • Pain in the bones and muscles
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Bouts of diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intense cravings for the prescription drug of choice

As you can see, these prescription drug withdrawal symptoms can seem quite debilitating. They tend to increase in severity over a few days' time. Once they peak, they will begin to improve. However, they may become severe again at any time.  

Usually, people give in and use again when they try to stop taking their medications on their own.

As we've previously discussed, a relapse of this nature is very dangerous.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Can a Prescription Drug Addiction be Treated?

If you have an addiction to prescription drugs, yes, your addiction can be treated. In fact, a painkiller addiction, or any type of prescription drug addiction should be treated professionally. No one should ever attempt to stop using these drugs on their own.

You may be tempted to attempt to stop using prescription drugs on your own first. Many people do, and they tell themselves that if they fail, they'll get help to quit. This is not a good idea because you are very likely to relapse. As you know, a relapse can be fatal if you overdose on your prescription drugs.

It's much safer for you to get professional help to stop using from the very beginning. A prescription drug rehab facility can guide you through the process to help you stop using safely.

Prescription Drug Detox is the First Step in Recovery

When you make the decision to stop using your prescription medications, you'll likely be recommended for detox. Drug detox is a process that will help to remove toxins from your body. These toxins are associated with your prescription drug use.

Also, drug detoxification will help you as you go through withdrawal. Your symptoms may be minimized, and many of them can be controlled very well. It is a much more comfortable way to stop using these medications, and it's safer for you as well.

Once you go through drug detox, drug rehab is the next step in your recovery journey. Prescription drug rehabilitation is designed to guide you through the psychological part of your addiction recovery.

You will discover why you became addicted to prescription drugs. This is information you may or may not already know. Once you know why, that root cause can be treated at the same time as your addiction is treated.

Getting as much information as you can about prescription drugs is critical when you have an addiction to them. It's also helpful when you are abusing prescription medications before the problem becomes an addiction.

It is our hope that you have found this information to be useful as you consider your next steps. Please remember that you don't have to remain in prescription drug abuse or addiction. You can get the help you need to stop using successfully.

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