Typically, most people take prescription medicine in a bid to follow their doctor’s instructions so that they can heal from their illnesses. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has asserted that around 47 million people have utilized prescription medicine for non-medical reasons. At Just One Recovery, we have helped many people who have suffered from prescription drug addiction in Orange County, California. Get in touch with us if you have any addiction problems. This will be your first step towards leading a healthier lifestyle.

What is Drug Addiction? 

The term addiction refers to a chronic brain disease that can occur repeatedly. This disease will make the affected person seek drugs compulsively, despite the harmful effects of these drugs on the individual and his or her loved ones. If you abuse any drug, including prescription medicine, there will be a change in your brain structure and how it functions.

Most people usually start taking prescription drugs voluntarily. Some people may abuse these drugs, and their brains will start malfunctioning. Often, such people will lose their self-control, and they will be unable to act decisively. Due to changes in their brain structure, they will always experience intense impulses, which will compel them to utilize more drugs. 

Which Prescription Drugs Are the Most Commonly Abused?

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are four main types of prescription medications that are the most commonly abused. These types include:

  • Opioids utilized to relieve pain
  • Depressants of the central nervous system used to prevent anxiety and treat sleeping disorders
  • Stimulants such as Adderall, Amphetamine, Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin, and Daytrana used in treating narcolepsy and attention deficit disorder
  • Antipsychotics used in treating psychological disorders

How Opioids Work

From the 1990s, prescriptions for opioids such as morphine and codeine have risen significantly. This increase has been attributed to widespread chronic pain and today’s aging population.

Opioids are generally meant to relieve pain. They come in pill, powder, or liquid form. You can take them through swallowing, snorting, or through an injection. When you use them cautiously as prescribed by the doctor, you will no longer feel pain, and your quality of life will improve. Taking opioids correctly rarely results in dependence and drug addiction.

However, if you take opioids for a long time, you may end up getting addicted; and you can even transition to using heroin. Moreover, an overdose of opioids can lead to life-threatening consequences. When you combine opioids with other substances that can affect the central nervous system like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates; you may suffer from respiratory depression. Abuse of opioids can lead to death as well.

Opioids can bring about a false illusion of joy and happiness. Some people may abuse specific opioid drug types such as OxyContin by overdosage to boost these joyful feelings. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Around 5% of these individuals usually develop an opiate drug addiction problem, as illustrated by the researchers at the University of Tennessee.

How Central Nervous System Depressants Work

The most common types of central nervous system depressants in the United States include:

  • Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax, Halcion, and ProSom
  • Sleep medications like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata
  • Barbiturates such as Mebaral, Nembutal, and Luminal

Millions of U.S. citizens utilize these depressants to treat sleeping disorders, anxiety, and seizures. CNS depressants work by affecting the functionality of the brain's neurotransmitter. This way, the level of activity in your mind will reduce; and you will start feeling calm or drowsy.

You can take depressants of the central nervous system for a couple of days to help you feel calm and relaxed during your stressful days. Since these drugs provide euphoric and numbing effects, they are easily desirable to individuals who would like to get high or want to self-medicate. You can easily become addicted to depressants after some time, especially if you find yourself taking larger doses to retain the feeling of calmness and relaxation.

Combining CNS depressants with alcoholic substances can tamper with how your blood circulation system and your respiratory system work. This can easily lead to death. 

How Stimulants Work

Stimulants can boost your attention, alertness, and energy levels. They can also help in raising your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Furthermore, stimulants can constrict your blood vessels and open up the pathways of your breathing system.

In the past, stimulants were mainly used to treat obesity and asthma. Nowadays, they can be utilized to cure other health problems such as narcolepsy, ADHD, depression, and ADD. The most commonly prescribed stimulants in the medical world today are dextroamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine, and methylphenidate. They usually come in the form of pills, and they can be snorted or swallowed when abused.

Stimulants have no health hazards if you utilize them correctly, as prescribed by your doctor. When you start abusing them, they may lead to addiction. Don’t take stimulants in higher doses, and avoid the temptation of crushing the pills to feel high. Combining stimulants with decongestants can make your heart rhythms to become irregular. Moreover, using large quantities of stimulants can raise your body temperature.

How Antipsychotics Work

Antipsychotics are prescription drugs that can help cure psychological disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Some antipsychotics can also be utilized in treating severe anxiety, dementia, agitation, and even physical problems such as hiccups and nausea. These antipsychotics come in two classes; atypical and typical.

Typical antipsychotics were discovered by medical scientists in the 1950s. Some examples of typical antipsychotics include flupentixol, pericyazine, chlorpromazine, perphenazine, among others. Typical antipsychotics have been invented quite recently, and some of them include quetiapine, clozapine, amisulpride, aripiprazole, risperidone, and olanzapine.

These drugs are usually taken orally, though some of them may be prescribed as depot injections. Antipsychotics work the same way as CNS antidepressants.

Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction Statistics

Most young adults between the ages of 18 - 24 abuse prescription medications. Here are some of the most glaring drug abuse data from this age bracket, as highlighted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • In the year 2014, over 1700 young adults lost their lives due to abuse of prescription drugs, mainly opioids
  • Around 12% of young adults are addicted to prescription drugs
  • For each death that occurred because of prescription drug abuse, there were over 199 emergency room visits and more than twenty treatment admissions among young adults

Additionally, between 1991 - 2011, there was a general increase in the number of prescriptions written specifically for opioids in the United States. It is not only opioids that have brought about this drug addiction problem, but also depressants, antipsychotics, and stimulants. In fact, at least 20% of U.S. citizens have been prescribed for a medication to treat a behavioral or psychiatric disorder. These people may resort to abusing these drugs to feel high temporarily. According to the 2012 - 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data, an average of 11.3 million people have been reported to be using prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes.

Why is Prescription Drug Addiction on the Rise?

There is no apparent reason why there are many instances of prescription drug addiction in our society today. One thing stands out though – medicines are more readily available to the people, and this makes it easy for them to abuse and misuse drugs.

The most common way of accessing drugs like stimulants, depressants, and opioids is being prescribed for by your doctor. Some people may utilize shortcuts and purchase these medicines from online pharmacies. In fact, even teens and children can quickly get these drugs on the internet; regardless of their age.

Some teens may steal these medications from their parents. These teens may later organize for ‘prescription parties,' and compete amongst themselves by taking the pills which look to be the most appealing and which can make them feel high. Unfortunately, they completely have no idea that what they are doing is dangerous; and that they can end up suffering from long term medical complications. 

Why Do Some People Become Addicted and Others Don’t?

Not all people become addicted after they have abused prescription drugs. There are various factors that determine whether or not you can end up being a prescription drug addict. These factors include your stage of growth, genetics, age, and social environment.

The more you are exposed to risks of drug abuse, the higher your chances of becoming an addict. Sometimes, drug addiction can run in families who have a strong genetic link. The people around you and your stage of growth can also influence whether you become addicted or not. According to recent medical research studies, people who start abusing drugs at a young age end up transforming into addicts as they grow older.

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

You can discern by yourself if you have started abusing prescription drugs by looking out for certain signs and symptoms. One way to know that you are on the path to addiction is when you discover that you are taking prescription medicine in high doses, or when you utilize them for non-medical purposes. For example, your doctor may order you to take painkillers three times a day. If you find yourself taking them more than three times each day, you can discern that you are becoming addicted.

You shouldn’t take prescription drugs to relieve yourself from boredom or to feel high. Your doctor may notice if you start abusing prescription medicine. He can look out for some signs which reflect your drug abuse behavior such as asking for larger doses, frequently going for refills, altering prescription forms, or utilizing multiple prescriptions from different medical professionals.

Prescription drugs can affect their abusers in various ways. The most common signs of opioid abuse include constipation, poor coordination, confusion, drowsiness, nausea, euphoria, and slowed breathing. When you abuse depressants and antipsychotics, you will start manifesting specific signs such as drowsiness, memory loss, slowed breathing, dizziness, unsteady walking, poor concentration, and slurred speech. Abuse of stimulants can result in reduced appetite, paranoia, agitation, fever, anxiety, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure.

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in someone you care about, you should notify a healthcare professional. These signs manifest that the person is suffering from prescription drug addiction, and they may need substance abuse treatment.

Guidelines for Utilizing Prescription Medication Safely

The FDA has listed several guidelines to promote the safe use of prescription medication in the United States. Some of these guidelines include:

  • Diligently follow the directions of the prescription medicine
  • Avoid sharing prescription drugs
  • Don’t lower or raise your medication doses without consulting the doctor
  • Be honest with your doctor and inform him if you have any history of drug or substance abuse
  • Never stop taking medications without talking to your doctor
  • Learn more about the side-effects of prescription drugs, especially when they are combined with other drugs or alcohol
  • Never break or crush pills, even if they have expired
  • Know about the effects of the prescription drugs you are taking on driving and other everyday tasks

Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

There are various treatments that can stop prescription drug addiction and assist the affected persons in leading sober, meaningful, and satisfying lives. The most commonly used treatments for prescription drug addiction include nonaddictive medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, and clonidine.

Buprenorphine is mainly used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. This medication is usually combined with naloxone to prevent instances of relapse.

There is a specific form of buprenorphine called Probuphine, which can be placed as an implant under the skin. Probuphine can treat opiate addiction amongst people who have been taking buprenorphine orally over an extended period, and their bodies have already gotten rid of the addictive drug. This implant will supply to the addiction patient a constant buprenorphine dose for around six months.

Other medications for prescription drug addiction include clonidine and methadone. There is also naltrexone, which can block the effects of opiates and prevent its relapse. Naltrexone can be taken through the mouth or by an injection which is administered monthly.

For the best results, you should combine these medications with cognitive behavioral therapy. This way, people who have been addicted to prescription drugs will totally stop abusing them.

How to Help a Loved One Who is a Prescription Drug Addict

You may have a close friend or a family member whom you believe has started abusing prescription drugs. In such a scenario, the first thing you should do is to reach out to a health care professional. These professionals may recommend the best drug treatment programs in your area that can help your loved one. Some of these drug treatment programs utilize outpatient treatment combined with medications and behavioral therapy.

Most importantly, you should talk to the affected person about his drug abuse behavior. Be prepared to deal with a lot of denial and resistance. Most people who are addicted must first suffer some severe consequences before they become aware of their illness. Then, support him as he tries to stop his drug addiction problem and get a new life.

How Treatment Centers Help

You will stop your prescription drug addiction habit if you go for treatment. The best way to access these treatment services is to visit a rehabilitation center. Unfortunately, there are very few people in the United States who know how addiction treatment centers help. For example, as illustrated by the NIDA, about 22 million Americans desired help to solve their addiction issues, but only 2.5 million of them were assisted by a drug specialty facility.

Often, prescription drug abusers require medical detox services. This is because they can experience various withdrawal symptoms if they stop using those drugs. Treatment centers can utilize alternative medicine techniques and medication and behavioral therapies to make withdrawal safe and comfortable.

If you enroll in a prescription drug treatment program, you will get a chance to talk with psychological therapists. These therapists will help you understand why you started abusing prescription drugs and how you can prevent relapse.

As asserted by a medical journal, over 90% of people who have been treated with prescription drug addiction reported a relapse. Drug treatment centers can help prevent these relapses by offering the rehabilitated addicts assistance when they slip and helping them discern how they can be tempted to abuse prescription drugs. This way, they won’t blow up into a full-blown addiction.

Find a Prescription Drug Treatment Center Near Me

Being addicted to prescription drugs can ruin your life and that of your loved ones. This is because you may find yourself unable to fulfill your financial and emotional obligations to your friends and family members. If you or your loved one has been battling with prescription drug addiction in Orange County, you should get in touch with Just One Recovery. Call us today at 714-538-8085 to talk about your situation with a drug rehabilitation expert. Recovering from prescription drug addiction isn't easy, but we will be there for you each step of the way. With us by your side, you will regain control of your life.