Prescription drug abuse has become a major problem in the U.S. with painkiller misuse reaching epidemic levels in recent years. One of the important ways to combat this problem is to help people become more educated about the dangers of prescription drug addiction. Unfortunately many people are unaware of the problems that can occur when using prescriptions for anxiety, pain or sleep medication.
It is important for everyone to learn more about prescription drugs because many Americans are prescribed medication and unintentionally become addicted. Others may use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons believing them to be safe simply because they are legal. With all of the myths and misconceptions about prescription drugs, it is crucial for people to familiarize themselves with the true facts.
Here are 5 things you should know about prescription drug addiction:
1. Prescription Drugs are the Leading Cause of Fatal Overdose
Overdoses have become an insidious problem in the U.S., particularly overdoses from opioid painkillers which cause about 45 deaths a day. Overdose deaths have reached unprecedented rates in the past decade as people become more addicted to prescription drugs. The number of prescription overdose deaths is now greater than the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.
The situations continues to become more dire as painkiller related deaths continue to rise. These deaths increased from about 4,000 in 1999 to 16,600 in 2010 meaning that in just a little over a decade overdose deaths from painkillers more than quadrupled. The numbers are staggering and only continue to grow as the problem worsens.
2. Prescriptions can Cause Tolerance and Withdrawal
One of the tell-tale signs that indicate that someone has developed an addiction is when they start to develop a tolerance to a certain drug. Most people start to develop a tolerance to alcohol and need to drink more and more of it over time to feel drunk. Although some people may mistakenly believe that you can’t develop a tolerance to prescription medications the reality is that many people do.
Once someone needs to take a higher dose of a medication to get the same effects, it signifies the early stages of addiction. Long-term prescription drug use can also lead to withdrawal symptoms, another clear sign that you are addicted. People who don’t get their regular dose of medication may experience feels of nausea, headaches, irritability and other typical withdrawal symptoms.
3. Numerous Types of Medications are Addictive
While opioid prescriptions may be the one of the biggest problems in the U.S. currently, they are not the only prescription drug that can lead to addiction. Other common types of prescription addiction can come in the form of stimulants such Ritalin and Adderall, Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium used for anxiety and sleep medications such as Ambien and Sonata. These are all types of medications that can cause tolerance, withdrawal and even overdose in some cases.
Opioids are the most addictive type of prescription drug but people who are prescribed medication for insomnia or anxiety and easily become addicted. It is very common for people for people to abuse stimulants in order to have increased energy and focused for important projects at work or in school. Unfortunately many young people become addicted to stimulants while they are using them in college to study.
4. Prescription Addiction Can Have Warning Signs
There are certain ways to tell if someone in your life is struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs. You may notice changes in their behavior and physical appearance such as weight gain or loss as well as sleep changes. They also might seem irritable and depressed or seem to be having problems in work or school.
One common behavior that occurs when people are addicted to medication is doctor shopping or getting multiple prescriptions for the same drug. They may do this because they are taking more pills than their doctor has actually prescribed and they need to maintain their supply. If someone seems to be seeing more than one doctor than this can be a clear sign of a problem.
5. Treatment Requires Detox and Rehab
Much like any other drug addiction, prescription drugs can cause a physical dependency that needs professional treatment. People who are addicted to prescriptions must go through detox so that they can rid their systems of the toxins and chemicals that are perpetuating their addiction. Withdrawal from prescription drugs can actually be quite uncomfortable so a detox clinic with medical staff on hand is necessary.
After detox, a stay in rehab is the next important step to recovery because it will allow an individual to address their mental addiction as well. Rehab can help people turn their lives around and prevent an overdose.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a prescription drug addiction, find a treatment center today.