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Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drugs Can Be Addictive, Too

Prescription drug misuse is exceedingly common, and the risk surrounding it is often underestimated. Many people believe that because their doctor has prescribed a drug, or because a substance has been approved by the FDA, it is completely safe to use a product in a way other than as directed. Often, this may begin with an extra dose here or there as tolerance develops. While doctors may say to take an anxiety pill only when on the verge of a panic attack, it may be easy for some women to instead justify taking the drug preventatively in the mornings.

Unfortunately, the reality is that these medicines can be extremely addictive and may cause someone to develop a chemical dependency. Read on to learn more about the dangerous of prescription medications.


Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

There are three main types of prescriptions drugs which are misused – they are depressants, stimulants, and opioids.

Depressants are medicines like sedatives, tranquilizers, and hypnotics. They slow brain activity and are typically prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, panic, acute stress reactions, and sleep disorders. They may cause drowsiness, slurred speech, poor coordination, confusion, dizziness, and memory problems. Popular categories are benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sedative hypnotics, and barbiturates. Brand name depressants you may recognize include Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, Halcion, Prosom, Ambien, Lunesta, Mebaral, Luminal, and Nembutal.

Stimulants increase alertness, energy, and attention, which is why they are used to treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These drugs boost the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine and cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Common name brands you may know are Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.

Opioid drugs are prescribed to alleviate severe or chronic pain, which they accomplish through relaxing the body. Because these extremely addictive substances create feelings of relaxation along with a rush, there is a high propensity for misuse. These drugs are highly addictive. You may recognize terms and brands associated with them: hydrocodone, Vicodin, oxycodone, OxyContin, Opana, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl.


Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Some indicators are common to all addictions. These include erratic behavior, lying about one’s whereabouts, continuing to use even with severe consequences, isolating oneself, making poor decisions, losing interest in one’s career, and failing to meet obligations at work and home. However, there are specific behaviors associated with prescription drug addiction. These may include…

  • “Doctor shopping,” or visiting multiple physicians to get prescriptions
  • Forging or “losing” prescriptions to get another
  • Continuing to use a drug after its associated symptoms have been alleviated
  • Refusing treatment options other than medication
  • Complaining about vague symptoms to get another script
  • Stealing someone else’s pills or prescriptions
  • Acting extremely hyped up or sedated
  • Experiencing flu-like symptoms with discontinuation of the drug (withdrawal)
  • Taking a substance in a way that was not prescribed (more often or in higher dosages)
  • Developing a tolerance and requiring more of the drug to get the same effect

If you notice your loved one engaging in any of the above listed behaviors, we recommend that you seek treatment as soon as possible.

Addiction Treatment

Sometimes, the first step to recovery is having an honest conversation with the prescribing physician or another professional. If your loved one is unwilling to take this step, consider seeking addiction treatment at a credentialed rehab center. Addiction recovery professionals are specially trained to help those who have developed a chemical and psychological dependency on prescribed medication.

Whichever facility you choose to work with, they should create an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your loved one’s needs. This should take substance use history, severity of addiction, past trauma, and mental health into account. Depending on these factors, your loved one may require full inpatient treatment; otherwise, they may be able to take advantage of a flexible outpatient program. Evidence-based addiction treatment should include:

  • Individual Counseling (CBT, DBT, EMDR)
  • Addiction Education
  • Continuing Care
  • Family Involvement
  • Group Therapy
  • Individualized Treatment Plans
  • A Positive, Supportive Environment
  • 12-Step Immersion
  • Transitional Living
  • Treatment for Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders


Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Permanent recovery is possible – we have the staff and alumni network to prove it. At Canyon Crossing, we understand that each woman requires an individualized path to healing. To learn more about our recommended treatment approaches for prescription drug addiction, call 800-651-7254 today.