Prescription Drug Addiction

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Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drugs are strong medicines that should be used carefully.

If you use prescription drugs in too high doses or for non-medical reasons, they can be as dangerous as illegal drugs. That is why you need a prescription from your doctor to buy the medication legally.

Misuse of prescription drugs is a serious public health problem in the United States. A National Institute on Drug Abuse report found that 9.5 million people misused prescription opioid painkillers, stimulants, and tranquilizers in 2017. People often misuse prescription drugs to experience their pleasurable effects, and many prescription medications are highly addictive.

Some of the most addictive medicines contain sedatives, stimulants, opioids, and benzodiazepines. Abusing these medications can lead to substance use disorder, meaning you may feel unable to stop taking the drug despite its harmful effects.

If you are struggling with prescription drug addiction, it may seem like recovery is an unattainable goal. But with the proper support, it is possible for anyone.

Situated in the breathtaking beauty of the Utah mountains, Cirque Lodge is an exclusive rehab center in a unique location. We offer a combination of experiential therapies, behavioral therapies, and support group sessions to help you rediscover your joy in life and guide you to lifelong recovery.

Prescription Drug Addiction Overview

What is the difference between prescription drug abuse and addiction?

Prescription drug abuse is when you use a prescription drug in a way or amount that is not medically advised.

You abuse prescription medication if you take it at higher doses than your doctor prescribed or take them with another substance to enhance the effects. If you take prescription drugs to experience pleasurable feelings, rather than for its medical benefits, this is also substance abuse.

Addiction is a psychological condition where you compulsively seek and use a drug, despite its harmful effects on your health and well-being.

It is possible to abuse drugs without developing an addiction, for example, taking non-addictive prescription drugs for pleasure, and it is also possible to develop an addiction without abusing drugs. Some people become addicted to prescription drugs even if they follow their prescription.

While you can abuse a substance without becoming dependent on it, abusing drugs dramatically increases your chances of addiction. Many prescription medicines cause addiction very quickly. You can become addicted to some benzodiazepines after using them for only two weeks.

Recovery Is Possible

Why Do People Abuse Prescription Drugs?

People abuse prescription drugs for any number of reasons.

The most common reasons that people abuse prescription drugs are:

  • To experience euphoria and intense pleasure
  • To feel less hungry
  • To gain the acceptance of friends
  • To feel less stressed
  • To feed or cope with an addiction

Some commonly abused prescription drugs are stimulants, painkillers, tranquilizers, and sedatives.

What Are the Dangers of Abusing Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are usually potent medicines.

If misused, they can have hazardous side effects and long-term effects on your health and well-being.

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Risk of Addiction

One of the main dangers of abusing prescription drugs is the risk of addiction.

The risk is particularly high with pain relievers, stimulants, tranquilizers, and sedatives. If you repeatedly take these drugs at high doses, your body may develop a tolerance to the drug, and you will have to take higher and higher doses to feel the same pleasurable effect.

Dangers of addiction include:

  • Serious health problems
  • Issues at work
  • Risk of accident
  • Damage to relationships with friends and family members
  • Financial difficulties

While not all prescription medicines are addictive, abusing them is still dangerous. Misusing non-addictive drugs can still damage physical and mental health and can even be fatal.

Risk of Overdose

You are much more likely to overdose if you abuse prescription medicines.

An overdose is when you take more of a drug than your body can handle. It is extremely dangerous and may result in serious health problems and even death.

Overdosing on opioid painkillers is a genuine risk. A National Center for Health Statistics report found that deaths involving prescription opioids quadrupled between 1999 and 2019. In 2019 drug overdose was the lead cause of injury-related death in the United States.

Mixing Prescription Medicines With Other Substances

Prescription medicines are much more likely to cause addiction or overdose when mixed with other substances such as alcohol.

Prescription medicines may have cross-tolerance with other drugs, and their side effects can reinforce each other. Combining any drugs is very dangerous, and you should only ever do it if your doctor prescribes it.

Dangers to Your Health

Abusing prescription medicines can have dangerous effects on your health, which can vary depending on the kind of medicine you are misusing.

Pain relievers:

  • Slow your breathing to dangerous levels

Stimulants:

  • Lead to dangerously high body temperature
  • Can result in seizures/irregular heartbeat

Tranquilizers and sedatives:

  • Slow breathing and heartbeat to dangerous levels, especially when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants
  • Potential seizures after prolonged abuse

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse or Addiction?

If you are worried that you or a loved one has a prescription drug addiction, please look at the list of signs and symptoms below.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, please call us as soon as you can. While picking up the phone may seem scary, it is the first step in your journey to recovery.

You will speak to one of our compassionate and non-judgmental medical professionals who can answer any questions and help guide you through the next steps.

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction may include:

  • Getting prescriptions from more than one doctor
  • Using drugs at higher doses than prescribed
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Being unusually energetic or tired
  • Seeming intensely and unusually happy

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Opioid Painkillers

Doctors prescribe opioid painkillers to treat pain.

They have a similar effect on the brain to morphine and heroin, producing feelings of euphoria and intense happiness. Oxycodone, methadone and codeine are all opioid painkillers.

Opioid painkillers are highly addictive and one of the most commonly abused drugs. Eighteen million people misused pain-relievers last year in the United States. 

Opioids affect the part of your brain that controls breathing, and a  high dose can slow your breathing so much that you can asphyxiate. This risk increases if you mix the drugs with alcohol.

Tranquilizers and sedatives

Tranquilizers and sedatives slow the brain down, and doctors usually prescribe them to treat anxiety, insomnia, and panic disorders. Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and Luminal are all brand names of sedatives.

People misuse sedatives due to the feelings of happiness and relaxation they can produce. You can develop an addiction to some kinds of sedatives even if you follow your prescription correctly.

If you develop an addiction, you will experience a range of withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms from sedatives can be life-threatening, so you must detox with professional medical support.

Stimulants 

Because of their potential for misuse, stimulants are used to treat only a few health conditions, such as ADHD, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression. Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®) and methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®) are both classified as stimulants.

People misuse stimulants for the feeling of euphoria they can produce and to improve their concentration. Repeated misuse of stimulants is dangerous and can result in physical dependence, paranoia, and psychosis. Substance abuse also increases the chance of an overdose, which may cause heart failure and seizures.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Recovering from prescription drug addiction requires a change in behavior and a commitment to live without them.

Situated in the great outdoors of the Rocky Mountains, Cirque Lodge is the perfect place for you to begin your lifelong recovery journey. Our treatment program begins with detox, and trained medical professionals are available 24-7 to make the process and easy and comfortable as possible.

After detox, we offer a combination of different therapies adapted to suit your personal needs. Our experiential therapies take you on adventures where you can reconnect your love of life without prescription drugs. You will rediscover the fun in sober life and build strong relationships with those around you.

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Cirque Lodge offers a combination of experiential, behavioral, and group therapies to provide a holistic and enriching treatment experience.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, please contact us today. We can help.

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