There is a reason prescription drugs are to be taken under a doctor’s direction. If not used correctly, they can be dangerous. Despite what many people may think, abusing prescription drugs is not any safer than abusing illicit drugs. Many doctors will tell you prescription drugs can have long term and short term effects on the human body when used incorrectly or by someone other than for whom they are prescribed. The number of people who need help with different prescription drug addiction and the number of overdoses across the country show that not everyone is taking these medications the safest way.
What is considered prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication in an inappropriate way, such as the following:
- Without a Prescription
- Not taking the substance as prescribed
- Taking it with the intentions of getting “high”
This also includes taking someone else’s prescription (such as a friend or relative) to treat your pain or help with studying. The increase in patients seeking treatment for prescription drug abuse, combined with the drastic increase in prescription drug overdoses throughout our country, would suggest that many people are not taking these medications as prescribed.
Different Stages of Abuse
Generally, before someone will admit they need help for abusing prescription drugs they experience at least 2 of the 3 stages listed below:
- Dependence – The user has a physical and mental dependence on the drug. Within a few hours of last consuming, the user will start to experience physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Most of the symptoms make the user feel like they’re coming down with a serious flu. When a user starts to experience these symptoms, mentally they understand that these feelings will go away if they just use the substance one more time. It’s extremely difficult for someone to remain sober when experiencing withdrawal, and without the support of the right treatment it can almost be impossible.
- Tolerance – Long before a patient seeks out help for the abuse they will have likely developed a tolerance. The person’s body has become used to having the substance, which causes it to develop a tolerance. This means in order to feel the same effects, the body needs more of the substance than when the person first started using.
- Overdose – Lacking the right prescription drug addiction treatment, overdose is a very serious possibility. In the event a patient does happen to quit using the prescription drug for a while, if they relapse (begin using again) it is quite possible they may believe they can use as much as they did prior to quitting. This puts the body at a much higher risk of overdose.
Deciding if there is a need for prescription drug addiction treatment
Before beginning treatment for prescription drug abuse, you need to be certain there is indeed a problem with misuse or abuse of the prescription drug. The way the addiction takes over can be different for everyone. Here are a few of the common behaviors and signs that someone is struggling with prescription drug abuse:
- Stealing money or excessively borrowing money for drugs.
- Faking illnesses to get new prescriptions
- Using more than one pharmacy to fill prescriptions
- Hiding pills
- Getting prescriptions for the same kinds of drugs from multiple doctors
Abuse to Addiction
The evidence is becoming increasingly clear, showing that Americans need treatment for prescription drug abuse. Twenty percent of adults throughout our country openly admit to abusing their medications. Occasional abuse of prescription drugs does not necessarily mean that those people need inpatient drug abuse treatment; it could, however, mean they might need other forms of help. For instance, they may not have a prescription for the medication, or they could be using other drugs and alcohol to heighten the effects of the medication. Some other ways people try to increase the effects of medication are by injecting, snorting or chewing it to make it work faster and to experience effects other than what the medication is prescribed for.
Finding the Right Professional Help
Now that so many people struggle with addiction, it is even more important to find treatment for your loved one if you believe they are struggling with dependence. Many different studies have shown that addiction can be treated provided they are enrolled into the proper prescription drug addiction treatment centers. The program needs to take into consideration the user’s needs as well as the abused medication. People assume that just enrolling into a prescription drug detox will solve the problem, but that’s just the beginning. Once someone gets through the detox process it will make a big difference, but that is just where the recovery process starts.