When does prescription drug use become a problem?
For generations, the family doctor has long been a trusted source when we don’t feel well, are suffering from an injury, or have another condition. These knowledgeable and well-educated physicians are able to listen to what troubles us, diagnose the cause, and oftentimes prescribe medication to help treat the issue. Some examples we often hear about include amphetamines (Adderall®), benzodiazepines (Xanax®, Klonopin®, Valium®, Ativan®), sleep medications (Ambien®, Lunesta®, Sonata®), opioids such as codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Norco®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), oxymorphone (Opana®), morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®), fentanyl (Actiq®, Duragesic®, Sublimaze®), and others.
Taking the medication your doctor prescribes can be important, especially if you want to fully recover. There is usually nothing wrong with taking the drug that is prescribed, as long as you take it as prescribed.
Following the orders of doctors and other healthcare professionals is important for your health. But there are certain times when taking prescription medication could be a sign of a bigger problem. If you are taking medication that was not prescribed to you or if you start to notice that you take the medicine your doctor prescribed for reasons other than intended or in larger doses, you may be developing an unhealthy addiction to that drug. This is the time to seek the help of a substance abuse treatment facility.
The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as “a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.” People who suffer from a substance use disorder focus intensely on using drugs or alcohol until that need eventually takes over their life. The use continues even when people are fully aware of the current and potential future consequences.
What are the signs of a prescription drug addiction?
Prescription drug addiction can take a significant toll on an individual and their relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. The condition can cause changes in the person’s behavior, causing them to act in a way that is out of the ordinary.
In addition to these problems, people may also encounter legal or financial problems. When a person is addicted to a substance or drug, they oftentimes will go to any length to get more of that substance. This includes theft, fraud, or other deceitful actions. This can result in problems with the law or loss of employment. It can also leave the ones closest to the person feeling like they can no longer trust them or the decisions they make.
Just like any addiction, there are signs that you could look for if you are concerned that you or a loved one might be addicted to prescription drugs. Depending on the exact drug being used, the signs may vary. The following is an extensive list of the most common warning signs to look for:
- Increased or irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Extremely alert
- Unsteady on feet
- Slow breathing
- Weight loss
- Easily agitated
- Unable to remember things
- Unable to concentrate
- Slurred speech
- Changes in diet
- Significant mood swings
- Increased dose required for effectiveness
- Legal problems
- Financial problems
- Social withdrawal
- Sudden loss of interest
- Requesting refills before they are due
- Stealing or borrowing medication from others
- Visiting multiple doctors for the same condition
Why can prescription drug addiction be so difficult to recognize?
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in America, yet nobody seems to know the exact reason why. It could be due to the fact that there are more drugs available today than there ever have been before. Perhaps it is because drugs are easily available from online pharmacies, many of which are located outside of the United States and therefore also outside the laws and regulations governing prescription drugs.
Another possible reason for this sudden increase in prescription drug addiction in recent decades could be due to the fact that it is often very difficult to recognize. Consider the following example:
Joe is a full-time construction worker who suffered from a bad fall while on the job one day. He was taken to the emergency room and treated for his injuries. The doctor prescribed him medication for his pain and told him to take 1 to 2 pills every 4-6 hours for discomfort as needed.
He started out taking 1 pill every 6 hours for the first week or so and realized how much better he was starting to feel. Within another few days, he started taking them every 4 hours instead of every 6 hours. After another few days, he was taking 2 pills every 4 hours – still within the doctor’s original orders. Joe was starting to realize that even though he was still within the prescribed guidelines, he was taking the medication even when he didn’t have any pain or discomfort. He liked the way they made him feel and he no longer enjoyed life the same way when he didn’t take them.
Before too long, Joe was refilling his medicine long before they should have run out. He started making up excuses like he lost them, or his originally prescribed dose wasn’t taking the pain away anymore just to get more from his doctor. Then he started going to multiple doctors to get more than one prescription for his pain medication to support his new habit.
In this example, Joe had started to develop an addiction to his medication when he started taking more and more pills even though he wasn’t feeling any pain. However, unless he told someone that he was no longer hurting physically, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell that anything was wrong. From the outside, it appeared as though he is following doctor’s orders.
Another reason that it can often be difficult to identify when normal prescription drug use turns into a problem is because many of the signs that should set off red flags are also often times normal side effects of proper use of the drug. Many prescription drugs can cause nausea, drowsiness, increased heart rate, etc. This makes it extremely difficult to determine when proper use of the drugs has turned into abuse.
What types of prescription drugs are addictive?
With every prescription drug, there are certain side effects that could occur while taking the drug, even if taken properly as the doctor prescribed. When your doctor diagnoses your condition, he will take into consideration your health, personal history, and any potential side effects. He or she will usually then prescribe what he feels is the best option to treat your condition.
Unfortunately, some drugs are simply more addictive than others. Each drug can also affect different people in different ways. One person can take a drug as prescribed and have no issues, while another can do the same and become addicted in no time.
The pain management drug class, which includes opioids, is generally considered the most addictive group of medications. These types of drugs are usually used in the treatment of pain. When these drugs travel through the body, they eventually arrive at the brain and attach themselves to certain receptors. Once attached, they cause your brain to react by blocking the pain signals and simultaneously increasing feelings of pleasure or happiness. This can cause a feeling of euphoria that people can become addicted to.
Some of the drugs in the opioid category include, but are not limited to:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Norco®)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
- Oxymorphone (Opana®)
- Morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
- Methadone (Methadose®, Dolophine®)
- Fentanyl (Actiq®, Duragesic®, Sublimaze®)
Besides opioids, many other types of prescription drugs are also addictive, including drugs for anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and insomnia, stimulants, and antipsychotic medications. Below are some of the most commonly abused medications:
Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax®, Klonopin®, Valium®, and Ativan®, are also commonly misused medications. These drugs are generally prescribed for anxiety, trouble sleeping, or seizures, but they are sometimes also used as muscle relaxers or to treat depression and relieve panic attacks. These drugs can have serious withdrawal symptoms and should be withdrawn from with medical care to prevent health complications such as seizures.
Amphetamines (Adderall®) and methylphenidates (Ritalin®, Concerta®) are stimulants that are typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, these medications are often abused, commonly by students or other young people. Quitting stimulants can be challenging due to the withdrawal symptoms. People who have been abusing stimulants for a long period of time should consider professional detox programs to ease the symptoms.
Sleep medications like Ambien®, Lunesta®, or Sonata® can be misused unintentionally due to their high prevalence in society today and the sometimes-inadequate guidelines for usage. People may become addicted to these types of drugs when they take them more frequently or in higher doses than they were originally prescribed. They may also be combined with alcohol or other drugs like painkillers or benzodiazepines, intentionally or unintentionally, resulting in a high. Treatment may involve medical detoxification, therapy, and holistic therapies like yoga or exercise.
Antipsychotic medications such as Seroquel® are often prescribed to treat depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. These types of medications are sometimes misused in order to induce a high feeling. People who are incarcerated may be prescribed this type of drug to treat mental issues and treat anxiety, and people in the military may use it to treat insomnia, PTSD, or other issues. When being abused, antipsychotic medications can be taken alone or in combination with other drugs such as cocaine. Withdrawing from this medication class can be difficult because the underlying issues it was originally prescribed to treat may return, making rehab an excellent choice to give yourself or your loved one a better chance at true, lasting recovery.
Antidepressants are very commonly prescribed medications that can be used to treat depression as well as obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other conditions. Despite their prevalence, most antidepressants are not abused. However, a small percentage of people do misuse bupropion antidepressants such as Wellbutrin®, Aplenzin®, and Zyban®. Signs of abuse include taking higher doses than prescribed, snorting, injecting, or combining the medication with other drugs. Antidepressants should never be stopped suddenly without the guidance of a doctor because of the risks of health complications, so medical detox for antidepressant use is highly advised.
Barbiturates (Amytal®, Butisol®, Nembutal®, Seconal®) are central nervous system depressants. In recent years, prescriptions for this drug class have gone down, making them less easily available and therefore less likely to be abused. However, misuse of this drug can be extremely dangerous and lead to overdoses or even death when taken alone; these risks are even more severe when taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs. If you or someone you love may be abusing barbiturates, don’t delay getting help any longer, but do seek professional medical care for the detoxification process to minimize the risks of withdrawal.
List of Opiates by Strength
The opiate epidemic has become a nationwide problem for people of all ages. Thousands of people are becoming addicted to opiates like prescription painkillers as well as heroin—and it’s not always the people you’d think. Everyone from teens, to those in poverty, to the working class and retired are falling prey to opiate painkillers. More often than not, people become addicted to opiates when they begin taking prescription medications. Sometimes the strength of the opiates prescribed can be a factor in whether someone develops an addiction. Because of this, it’s good to know a list of opiates based on strength.
Opiate pain medications were created to help those who have some sort of chronic pain or are recovering from an injury or surgery. These medications act by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and blocking pain. For some, these medications give a euphoric feeling that many people enjoy. However, that euphoric feeling can also be dangerously addictive. From weakest to strongest, these are the opiates that are typically prescribed:
The first sign of an opiate addiction is that the person’s original medication or dosage is no longer enough. Because of this, they may ask their doctor for a stronger medication or a dosage increase. The issue with an opiate addiction is that the brain believes it needs opiates in order to feel well. As a result, the brain will actually make pain seem more intense than it is. In turn, a person feels they need stronger medications to deal with their pain.
Another sign of opiate addiction is going to multiple doctors or pharmacies to have prescriptions written and refilled. Many doctors and pharmacies are aware of the opiate crisis in the United States, so they do their best to monitor patients for potential abuse. If someone addicted to pain medication is no longer able to get it legally, they may begin stealing medications from friends or family members or even seek out a drug dealer to buy the medications from. In more serious cases, they may even turn to heroin abuse. Getting help for yourself or a loved one with an opiate addiction is crucial before it spirals out of control.
What types of treatments are helpful for prescription drug addictions?
No two situations involving drug addiction are quite the same, and no two treatments for the condition are either. Depending on what type of drug you are addicted to and how long you have been misusing the substance, some treatment methods will be more effective than others. Overall, there are several different types of treatment that have shown success for people who suffer from abuse.
First and foremost, you may need to go through a detox period that allows enough time to get the drug completely out of your system. A medical detox program will provide 24-hour supervision by trained medical personnel to ensure that your detoxification is safe and as comfortable as possible.
This type of treatment is the most intensive and is usually the next step for people suffering from substance use disorders once they have completed detox. In a residential program, you will live on-site at the treatment facility and spend all of your time there. You will be provided with all of your meals and other necessities, including a case manager, counselors, and classes to help you begin your new way of life.
Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization Treatment
The biggest difference between this treatment level and inpatient or residential treatment is that you will sleep off campus, usually at a sober living home nearby. You will still receive case management, counseling, and other services at the rehab facility, and you will be required to attend your classes each day. With this level of care, you can expect to spend 6-8 hours at the facility each day of the week. This level of care is an excellent option for people stepping down from the inpatient level of care who aren’t quite ready to be out on their own just yet.
Regular outpatient care involves your attendance at the treatment facility on a regular basis to attend classes, counseling sessions, and to meet with your case manager to monitor your progress. Depending on the recommendations of your case manager and the progress you are making through the program, you can expect to spend 3-5 hours per day for 3-5 days per week at the treatment facility.
Once you have successfully completed your treatment and are ready to be completely on your own, you may find that you still occasionally need support or someone to talk to. Rehab programs offer aftercare services that allow you to attend any of the classes or meetings that you attended while in treatment. This is a great opportunity to continue to stay in touch with your sober support network, which can ultimately help you avoid relapsing back into an addictive lifestyle.
Where can I attend prescription drug rehab in Arizona?
If you or a loved one feel that you may have a problem with prescription drug abuse, the first step is being ready to get help. Pinnacle Peak Recovery, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a top-rated drug rehab center near Phoenix that utilizes cutting-edge treatment options to custom tailor a treatment plan that revolves around you and your unique situation.
From the very first phone call to our facility, you will find that each path to recovery is unique, just like the individual experiencing the journey. Our intake representatives will ask about your situation, learn what your specific goals are, and ensure that your rehab needs are met.
We provide a safe, supportive environment that offers everything you will need to begin your new life. We are an award-winning luxury rehab facility that uses nationally recognized, evidence-based treatment. We believe in a holistic approach that helps your mind, body, and spirit recover in unison, allowing you the best chance at recovery.
Don't wait another day to start your recovery.
A prescription drug addiction is a difficult thing to live with and choosing to continue down the dark path of addiction can lead to increased problems or even death. You don’t have to wait another day to begin your recovery toward a happy and healthy lifestyle. We are ready to answer any of your questions and help you get started.
We offer a wide variety of treatment options in order to help every client that comes through our doors. It is our mission to help get you back on the right path. Call 866-954-0524 today to learn how we can help you or your loved one.
Don’t suffer any longer. Call us today!