A Better Today

Prescription Pill
Inpatient Rehab

How A Better Today Treats Prescription Pill Addictions

Prescription drugs come in many forms and serve many valuable purposes. Some, however, can be abused and can become addictive. These include central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety or sleep disorders, stimulants used to treat ADD or narcolepsy, and opioids, which are painkillers.

It’s not clear why some people become addicted to these drugs and others don’t. Risk factors for addiction include genetics, as well as social environment, peer pressure, and the age at which you start using the drugs. Prescription pills are fairly easy to get through online pharmacies, and doctors are writing more prescriptions for these drugs than ever. Addiction often begins when a doctor prescribes a drug legally, and the patient keeps taking the drug when they no longer need it.

Treatment often combines cognitive behavioral therapy with use of nonaddictive medications to help people beat their addiction and regain control of their bodies and their lives.

Many people require the focused care provided by an inpatient program to monitor their detox period and get them on the road to recovery. Most experts believe that a combination of inpatient treatment followed by outpatient aftercare is the best approach. At A Better Today, we can help you or your loved one through all aspects of recovery from prescription pills abuse.

Nearly 500,000 people each year abuse prescription medications for the first time.

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.

Interventions for Prescription Pill Addictions

Because prescription pill abuse can sneak up on a user, often they 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.

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Pills

Painkillers

Opioids are abused by more than 20 million people in the United States each year. Opiods, also known as narcotics, are painkillers that are made from the opium poppy or synthesized to imitate those drugs. Natural opiods include codeine and morphine, both of which are available by prescription only.

Synthesized prescription opioids include oxycodone, sold under the brand names OxyContin and Percocet; hydrocodone, sold as Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, and Norco; fentanyl, known by its brand name Duragesic; meperidine, sold under the name Demerol; and hydromorphone, known as Dilaudid. All the opioids are chemically related to one another, and also to the illegal drug heroin.

Opioids relieve pain and produce a high or a relief from anxiety when they interact with opioid receptions in the brain. When a patient takes an opioid that’s been prescribed to relieve pain, in most cases, they don’t become addicted. However, when opioids are taken in high doses and for reasons other than pain relief, including to get high or to relieve anxiety, they can become extremely addictive. They can also serve as gateway drugs that open the door to heroin use and abuse.

Other Prescription Pills

The two other major categories of prescription pills that are widely abused are stimulants and central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Like opioids, these drugs are prescribed for valid medical reasons, but become dangerous when used for non-intended purposes or when given to someone other than the patient they were prescribed for.

CNS depressants such as triazolam (Halcion), phenobarbital, diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax) are used legitimately to treat anxiety and insomnia. They affect the central nervous system, decreasing brain activity. However, patients can easily develop a tolerance to these drugs, requiring higher doses to get the same effect. They’re also dangerous if paired with alcohol.

Stimulants increase energy levels and also provide a focusing effect for the brain. Popular stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrin) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), are prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep problems, and depression. These drugs are often abused by students or workers with late shifts who want an extra boost of energy and alertness. However, when taken in excess, these drugs lead to irregular heartbeat and addiction.

The Dangers Associated with Prescription Pill Abuse

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, preferably in a safe inpatient environment such as we provide at A Better Today.

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.

FAQ

What are Prescription Drugs?

Prescription pills are medication prescribed by your doctor, developed by a reputable pharmaceutical company. These pills can vary by type and treatment. Some examples are painkillers, antidepressants, anti-seizure, and sleeping pills.

What are Prescription Drugs’ origins?

Prescription pills must be prescribed by a doctor and obtained from a pharmacy. Many prescription pills can be made from opium, however, scientists use methods of extracting chemical compounds from plants and purifying them into little tablets or powder found in capsules.

What are Prescription Drugs’ common street names?

Pills, Meds, Oxy’s

How are Prescription Drugs abused?

Tablets of prescription pills can be ingested, crushed, snorted, and dissolved in order to be injected.

What are Prescription Drugs’ effects on the mind?

Prescription pills are abused to enjoy feelings of euphoria, sedation, reduced anxiety and depression, and pain free living. Depending on the prescription pills that are being abused, these pills can change the way the brain functions, developing a dependency.

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.

Common Behaviors Associated with Prescription Pill Addiction

Behavioral changes associated with prescription pill addiction can look a little different than those associated with, say, crystal meth or heroin addiction.

Users often make 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 percent of the 22 million or so Americans addicted to prescription drugs visit an addiction treatment center to get help.

At an addiction treatment facility like A Better Today, 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 learn to cope with their triggers and move into healing and sobriety.

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