When people think of drug abuse, illegal drugs like meth or heroin usually come to mind, but you might be surprised to learn that some of the world’s deadliest and most addictive drugs may be in your medicine cabinet. Although prescribed for legitimate medical concerns, prescription drugs like OxyContin, Xanax and Ambien are frequently abused, and this trend is on the rise, along with drug overdoses and emergency room visits. In 2018, more than 67,000 Americans died from an overdose, with studies indicating that nearly 60 percent of overdose-related deaths involve prescription drugs. While cocaine abuse is a difficult addiction to break, there is hope.
These statistics demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, prescription drugs are just as dangerous as illicit substances. In fact, many drugs that are illegal today were once used for medicinal purposes, with toothache or cough remedies often containing cocaine and heroin. Prescription drugs have been formulated over the years to provide the same relief from common ailments with fewer side effects but are still incredibly powerful and carry some of the same risks as their predecessors. Although doctors take steps to minimize harm and limit abuse, dependency and addiction are still a problem. Fortunately, enrolling in an effective treatment program such as those at True can help you or your loved one get back on track and achieve long-term recovery from prescription drug addiction.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines prescription drug abuse as the misuse of prescription medication in a manner other than for the prescribed purposes, also known as non-medical use. This includes taking more than prescribed, using another person’s medication, or recreational use to achieve a euphoric effect. Prescription drugs are also abused to lose weight, fit in and increase productivity, and the consequences of this kind of misuse are similar to those seen with illicit drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine. The risk of overdose, health problems, strained relationships, and addiction are common concerns related to prescription medication abuse, and long-term misuse can also lead to withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to stop or cut back without professional help.
At True, we know that prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States. People are often more likely to use them because they mistakenly believe they are safer than illicit substances, and they’re easier to obtain due to their wide availability. The dangers associated with prescription drug abuse are serious, however, and we offer high-quality addiction treatment to help combat the epidemic. With a wide array of therapeutic services and specialized programs, our goal is to help those struggling with prescription drug addiction find lasting recovery so they can live the happy, healthy life they deserve.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug addiction often happens quickly and without warning, even if someone is taking their medication as directed. Addiction is more likely to develop with misuse, however, and those who become hooked often exhibit signs and symptoms similar to illicit substance abuse. These may vary depending on the particular medication, but some indications that suggest a problem with prescription drugs include:
- Often requesting early refills
- Falsely reporting lost or stolen prescriptions
- Taking more than prescribed
- Stealing medications from friends or family
- Crushing pills to bypass the timed release
- Irresponsible drug combinations (e.g., benzodiazepines and opioids)
- Doctor shopping and drug-seeking behavior
- Drug paraphernalia (straws, razor blades, needles, etc.)
- Going through prescriptions too quickly
- Selling or buying prescriptions illegally
- Frequently appearing intoxicated or high
Numerous prescription drugs can be abused to achieve a high or euphoric effect, so the signs of intoxication vary widely depending on the medication. If you or someone you love is exhibiting any of these signs, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Many people move on to drugs like heroin after becoming addicted to prescription medications, but with the proper support and guidance, it’s possible to reclaim your life from the grips of addiction before this happens.
Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Most prescription drugs can be misused, but the vast majority of medications that lead to addiction and dependency fall under three main categories due to their particular effects:
The most abused prescription drug in the U.S., opioids include both synthetic and semi-synthetic painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, and fentanyl. These medications achieve their effects by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, inducing feelings of warmth, euphoria, and well-being. Heroin works in the same way, so consequently, prescription opioids share many of the same risks and side effects. Even when taken as directed, tolerance and addiction often occur with long-term use as the body adjusts to their presence and experiences withdrawal if use is stopped.
Known for their energizing effects, stimulants are often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Commonly used stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine, drugs that are chemically similar to methamphetamine. These drugs are effective when used as directed but have a high potential for abuse as many individuals use them to increase productivity, stay awake longer and feel euphoric. Long-term use can cause a variety of mental and physical effects, including weight loss, mood swings, and an inability to feel pleasure.
Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs often used in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin fall under this category and are safe if used as directed, but these drugs are commonly abused to produce a high. They are also frequently taken with alcohol and opioids to enhance their effects, but this is a dangerous combination that can significantly depress breathing, sometimes with fatal consequences. Long-term use of benzodiazepines often leads to addiction and dependency, with deadly withdrawal symptoms such as depression, seizures, psychosis, and tremors.
Although the majority of prescriptions that led to dependency and addiction are opioids, stimulants, and benzodiazepines, other drugs like sleep aids, muscle relaxants, and cough syrups are also abused. If you find a suspicious pill or notice signs that suggest you or someone you love has a problem, True can help.
Prescription Drug Rehab at True
People abuse prescription drugs for a number of reasons, whether it’s to have a good time or mask the pain of an underlying mental health condition. At True, we believe that identifying the reason behind the abuse is the first step toward healing and provides holistic care that addresses the mental, physical and emotional aspects of addiction. We also know that you’re more than just your addiction and utilize goal-oriented addiction treatment programs to help you achieve lasting recovery.
Some of our treatments and therapies include:
- EIndividual and group therapy
- EAdvanced psychotherapies such as CBT and DBT
- EMotivational interviewing (MI)
- EExperiential and holistic therapies
- ELife and coping skills development
- EMindfulness and meditation
- EStrategies for sober living
- ERelapse prevention techniques
- EChemical dependency education
- E12-step methodology
- EAlternative recovery support
- EMedication-assisted treatment
- EFamily program
- EAftercare services
Depending on the drug being abused and the extent of your addiction, your recovery may begin with a medically supervised detox. Withdrawal from prescription drugs can be dangerous, but our compassionate team of addiction experts is skilled in managing symptoms to eliminate drugs safely and comfortably. Afterward, we work closely with you and your family to determine the appropriate level of care that will give you the best chance at achieving long-term sobriety.
Treatment at True
With a variety of programs available in Newport Beach, California, True provides highly personalized care in a safe and comfortable environment. If you’ve undergone prescription drug addiction treatment in the past or you’re seeking help for the first time, you’ll find that our alternative programs offer the care that you need for a successful recovery.