A Better Today

Prescription Pill
Inpatient Rehab

Can You Get Addicted to Prescription Pills?

Because prescription pills are widely believed to be safe, many people fall into addiction without the intent to abuse the drugs. Nevertheless, prescription drug overdoses now lead to more than 15,000 deaths per year.

Those who are particularly susceptible to prescription drug addiction include adolescents, who are prone to experimentation and peer pressure; those with easy access to the drugs, including people working in the medical field; and those with co-occurring addictions and mental health issues.

Often a friend or family member gives one of their own prescription medications to someone who isn’t the intended patient as a “favor,” unwittingly starting them on the path to addiction. People can also slide into addiction by renewing prescriptions they no longer need, taking prescription pills for purposes other than those intended, or taking a higher dose than originally prescribed.

Prescription pills are typically swallowed, rather than being smoked or injected as some other illegal pills are. As a result, those who abuse prescription pills are often unaware that their misusing the substances, since it feels as if they’re taking them as directed.

Because the body can become accustomed to prescription dosages over time, addiction can happen when people start to demand increased dosages, and prescription opioid abuse, in particular, can lead to abuse of illegal opioids such as heroin.

Prescription Pill FAQ’s

What's the detox from prescription pills like?

There's not a clear cut answer to this question due to the wide variety of types of prescription drugs. Some types of medications such as opioids or benzodiazepines will require a longer time spent in detox with special medications provided to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Stimulant prescription drugs may result in a lesser time in detox to dedicate more time to the next stage of treatment.

How is a prescription pill addiction treated?

Prescription pill addiction is treated by a wide variety of different evidence-based therapies that are provided within each level-of-care. Learn more about evidence-based treatment.

Can detox from prescription pills be done at home?

Medical professionals do not advise attempting to detox off of some prescription pills at home. With prescription pills such as opioids and benzodiazepine the withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable. One must also remember that detox is just the first part of learning to live life sober. It's better to go into an inpatient rehab that can not only give you a medically supervised detox, but can teach you how to live a healthy life again.

What about underlying mental health issues?

Our Phoenix and Scottsdale rehab facilities specialize in co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder is a simultaneous drug use and mental health diagnosis. Our master-level clinicians help our patients get to the bottom of both and do so in a way where life becomes manageable.

What if many different pills and drugs are being mixed by the user?

Poly drug use, or the consistent use of more than one drug is becoming more common in the US. During the rehab intake process, patients are asked to disclose what drugs they are using. From there, our therapists at our Phoenix office can help create a treatment plan specifically designed to meet patient needs, regardless of what or how many drugs they are using.

What are prescription drugs’ effects on the body?

Prescription pills can cause dizziness, loss of appetite, changes in blood pressure, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, nausea, papillary constriction, impaired coordination, rashes, and slow or rapid heartbeat. Damage to the major organs can also occur depending on the pills abused.

What are prescription drugs’ overdose effects?

When abused, it is possible to overdose on prescription pills. An overdose can cause severe respiratory depression, drowsiness, cold/clammy skin, and reduction in blood pressure and heart rate. To be more specific, look up the prescription pill name to get a better idea of what will happen during an overdose.

Which drugs cause similar effects as prescription drugs?

Heroin has similar effect as painkillers because they both are derived from opium, a latex found in a plant. Meth or Crystal Meth are in the same amphetamine family as Ritalin, Adderall, or Concerta.

What are the withdrawal effects of prescription drugs?

When the user stops abusing prescription pills, they can experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, psychotic episodes, muscle pain, agitation, diarrhea, nausea, dilated pupils, abdominal cramping, goose bumps, and vomiting. Depending on the type of prescription pills the withdrawal symptoms may vary.

Need more help with Prescription Pill Addiction?
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Quality Treatment for Prescription Pill Addictions

Treatment for prescription pills can be very successful. But unfortunately, only about 10% of the 22 million or so Americans addicted to prescription drugs visit an addiction treatment center to get help.

At an effective addiction treatment center, your loved one can get the help they need with medical detox. Medications exist to ease users get through the challenges of the detox period and to make the withdrawal period comfortable.

Once through detox, prescription pill abusers typically undergo a rehab program that pairs behavioral therapy and counseling with further medication therapy. As your loved one works through their issues with trained and confidential therapists, they gain the skills they need to face the temptations and challenges of the real world.

Relapse is common with prescription pill abusers, so it’s important for your loved one to move directly into an aftercare program. When a prescription pill addict realizes that relapse is a distinct possibility and has support services to help, they can move away from their addiction more effectively. At A Better Today, we are ready to help you find treatment. A high-quality treatment center is prepared to help your loved one learn to cope with their triggers and move into healing and sobriety.

Medical Detox

Effective medical detox experts focus on taking the discomfort out of the detox and withdrawal process. We understand that each patient has different needs. Patients can usually choose to either undergo medical detox or social detox. You deserve an effective and realistic addiction treatment plan.

Intensive Outpatient

Different outpatient programs, such as intensive outpatient and evening intensive outpatient programs, can help patients receive treatment while living at home. Connecting you to a safe and therapeutic program is our top priority. Learn More

Residential Treatment

Residential facilities are the perfect place to start your journey to recovery. At high-quality residential treatment centers, expert clinicians and medical providers assess your needs and provide an individualized plans tailored to your needs. Learn More

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Interventions for Prescription Pill Addictions

Because prescription pill abuse can sneak up on a user, people often can’t see the damage they may be causing to their health, their relationships, their career, and their finances. Even if your loved one is aware that they have a problem with pills, they may not want to face the challenges of withdrawal or the prospects of dealing with the issues of life without the drugs.

An intervention can be an appropriate step to take if your loved one has refused help or persists in being unable to acknowledge their problem with prescription pills. The goal of an intervention is always to try to get the drug abuser into treatment, not to berate them with accusations or anger.

While many family members and friends are able to stay focused and help an addicted loved one understand the need for treatment, often it’s best to rely on a professional intervention specialist.

Doctor Shopping and Drug-seeking Behavior

If your loved one is addicted to prescription pills, they may go “doctor shopping” to find physicians willing to write prescriptions for the drugs they want. Often, this involves heading to emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, and a wide variety of outpatient health care facilities to get as many prescriptions as possible. Some users may even try to be hospitalized to get the drugs they crave, and they often try to barter or trade drugs with other addicted persons.

Your loved one may be doctor shopping if they go to multiple doctors within a short span of time, claim they lost a prescription and need a replacement, visit doctors out of town, or visit emergency rooms frequently with complaints that the desired drug can treat.

If you spot this drug-seeking behavior from a loved one, it’s time to get your friend or family member into treatment.

Signs & Symptoms

Because the three types of prescription drugs have different effects on the body, their symptoms vary greatly.

Someone taking opioids may complain of nausea and constipation. They may also show a slowed breathing rate, as well as drowsiness, confusion, and lack of coordination.

Those taking CNS depressants may show the same symptoms of drowsiness, slowed breathing and confusion, along with difficulty walking, dizziness and slurred speech. They may also have problems remembering things.

People taking stimulants manifest a completely different set of physical symptoms. Look for insomnia, anxiety and even paranoia, high blood pressure and increased body temperature, irregular heartbeat, and reduced appetite.

Withdrawal

Even if your loved one’s prescription drugs were prescribed legally, withdrawing from dependence on them can seem overwhelming. The specific symptoms of withdrawal depend on the type of drugs taken, and withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

Users undergoing withdrawal from prescription pills often experience nausea and vomiting, as well as the feeling of being simultaneously cold and hot. They can feel depressed or anxious and express paranoia.

If your loved one is using opioids, medications are available to help them get through withdrawal with as little pain and discomfort as possible. These medications must be administered by trained medical personnel.

Overdose

People taking prescription opioids and other drugs can overdose even when they’re prescribed legally. Some people may take too many painkillers without realizing it, or they may mix sleep medications with alcohol and wind up in trouble.

Signs of a prescription pills overdose include the following:

  • Hallucinations or thoughts of suicide
  • Extreme sleepiness or passing out
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rambling or slurred speech, mental fogginess, and confusion
  • Diarrhea and abdominal pain
  • Convulsions and seizure-like symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain

If your loved one shows signs of overdosing on prescription pills, get them to an emergency room immediately. Emergency personnel may pump their stomach, provide breathing assistance, and administer medications to counteract the overdose, if possible.

Common Behaviors Associated with Prescription Pill Addiction

Behavioral changes associated with prescription pill addiction can look a little different than those associated with substances such as crystal meth or heroin.

Users often make up illnesses for themselves, their children or their pets, and they may visit an unending stream of doctors. Once doctor shopping no longer works, they need significant cash to buy their drugs. Watch to see if your loved one is taking out cash on credit cards, stealing from you or other family members, or selling possessions.

Your loved one may also suddenly become irresponsible, falling asleep at odd times, making mistakes or having accidents, or getting into arguments without provocation. In addition, they may work hard to hide their addiction. Watch for behavior signs like demanding privacy, keeping odd hours, and withdrawing from society or from other family members.

Providing Quality Treatment for Prescription Pill Addictions

Treatment for prescription pills can be very successful, but unfortunately only about 10% of the 22 million or so Americans addicted to prescription drugs visit an addiction treatment center to get help.

At an addiction treatment facility, your loved one can get the help they need with medical detox. Medications exist to ease users get through the challenges of the detox period and to make the withdrawal period comfortable.

Once through detox, prescription pill abusers typically undergo a rehab program that pairs behavioral therapy and counseling with further medication therapy. As your loved one works through their issues with trained and confidential therapists, they gain the skills they need to face the temptations and challenges of the real world.

Relapse is common with prescription pill abusers, so it’s important for your loved one to move directly into an aftercare program. When a prescription pill addict realizes that relapse is a distinct possibility and has support services to help, they can move away from their addiction more effectively. At A Better Today, we are prepared to help your loved one enroll in the treatment that will allow them to cope with their triggers and move into healing and sobriety.

Reliable Sources Matter to ABTRS

Deciding to seek substance abuse treatment can be stressful. The stigma associated with active addiction makes it difficult to find a reputable source of information to support your life change decisions to get sober. Not many people feel comfortable going to a doctor to discuss their alcohol addiction without feeling shame or blame for their struggles. That is why it is important for ABTRS to provide information that you can count on, free from shame, and worth your trust.

We want to empower you with the knowledge to make good decisions that better your life. We take pride in offering reputable sources that are impartial, not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes, and proven or tested to be effective. Know that the sources below are there to help you by educating you about rehab and the substance you are indulging in.

Sources

Addressing Chemically Dependent Colleagues Volume 2/Issue 2 July 2011. Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/Addressing_Chemically_Dependent.pdf

Mealer, M., Burnham, E. L., Goode, C. J., Rothbaum, B., & Moss, M. (2009). The prevalence and impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome in nurses. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919801/

The Opioid Crisis and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: How Can We Help. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.aana.com/docs/default-source/aana-journal-web-documents-1/guest-editorial—the-opioid-crisis-and-the-certified-registered-nurse-anesthetist—how-can-we-help.pdf?sfvrsn=76ad4ab1_4

Toney-Butler TJ, Siela D. Recognizing Alcohol and Drug Impairment in the Workplace in Florida. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507774/

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