Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.
Prescription drug abuse can take over someone's life if help isn't found. It doesn’t have to be this way though. For those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse and addiction, help is only a phone call away.
It is normal for the brain and body to develop a tolerance to prescription drugs. A tolerance is built when the amount of drugs in the body does not have the same effect it once had on the brain. Feeding into the tolerance by increasing dosage is a common way individuals abuse drugs and develop a dependence on the substance. Drug dependence means that an individual’s body has adapted to having the drug in his or her system. In these cases, the lack of drugs in the body leads to cravings and other symptoms of withdrawal. Dependence becomes an addiction when the individual actively seeks drugs and uses despite the effects it has on his or her financial, social and professional life.
These three different types of prescription drugs have different reactions when it comes to brain chemistry. Opioids affect the nerve cells that control pain and pleasure, stimulants increase the production of dopamine in the brain leading to stimulation and depressants affect the neurotransmitters responsible for arousal, judgment and pain relief. This means symptoms can vary depending on what is being abused. For instance opioids may cause a person to be very tired while amphetamines may cause them to exhibit extra energy.
Prescription drugs fall into three categories that include opioids, stimulants and depressants. Common prescription opioids include Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, which have similar effects as heroin. Prescription stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall, which affect the brain in similar ways as cocaine and methamphetamines. The most commonly abused prescription depressants include Valium, Xanax and Klonopin, which can produce effects similar to those of marijuana.
Different meds affect the brain and body differently, meaning there are different treatment options necessary for recovery depending on the individual and the drug. It is important to understand the effects of these drugs on an individual’s system in order to accurately assess the best course of treatment. The level of care is determined on a case-by-case basis.
The detoxification process is essential for individuals prior to drug treatment as it is necessary to rid the body of the drugs before moving forward. Once this process has been completed and withdrawal symptoms are under control, an individual can be treated at inpatient, residential or outpatient facilities.
Medication is sometimes used in combination with therapy, particularly for opioid abuse, as there are certain prescription drugs that can counter the effects of opioids and/or manage withdrawal symptoms.
Different kinds of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), have proven effective in helping with the treatment of prescription drug abuse by restructuring the way thoughts affect actions in the brain. A number of holistic treatment options are also available for those in recovery, including yoga and meditation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44 Americans die each day as a result of prescription drug overdose. This is an unfortunate yet common result of prescription drug abuse. The amount of painkillers prescribed in the United States has quadrupled since 1999 as have the amount of prescription painkiller-related deaths in the nation. This and many other aspects of prescription drug abuse culminate to highlight one fact: if someone is addicted to prescription medications, the sooner they find help the better.