The legal status and ease of access to prescription drugs like opioid painkillers, sedative-hypnotics, and stimulants makes these drugs high-risk in terms of dependence and addiction. Most often an addiction is accompanied by underlying psychological or physical health conditions, but especially in cases of prescription drug addiction as they are often prescribed for medical purposes, unlike recreational street drugs.
Oxycontin, Percocet, Benzodiazepines, Xanax, and Adderall are all examples of prescription drugs with high rates of addiction globally. They are initially prescribed as a means of reducing symptoms and pain following injury or surgery, or to ease symptoms associated with psychological conditions. Their use is intended to be temporary, as prolonged use is a major subsequent factor in the development of addictive behaviors.
Unfortunately, misuse of prescription medication creates a high risk of developing a dependence and eventually a full-blown addiction. Though they are legal and prescribed, prescription drugs can cause just as many health problems as illicit drugs when misused. At Brazos Recovery Services, we offer a full treatment program for men addicted to prescription drugs, aiming to release the hold that such drugs have on patients, and restore them to balance and normal functioning in daily life.
Commonly Abused Prescription Medication
The range of prescription drugs with potential for abuse and high rates of addiction is wide. Some of the most common medication that people develop an addiction to are opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, tramadol, fentanyl, and co-codamol, benzodiazepines like Valium and Librium, and stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Opioid painkillers like those mentioned above are generally prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain that arises as a result of injury, following surgery, or in response to chronic pain. They typically provide highly effective pain relief and a sense of pleasure, and even feelings of a calm euphoria. Combined with their addictive qualities, opioid medications have a dangerously high potential for abuse and fatal overdose.
Those struggling with psychological health conditions like anxiety disorder and panic attacks may be prescribed benzodiazepines (or ‘benzos’) which promote feelings of calmness and serenity. In suffering from the conditions/disorders associated with benzodiazepines, calm and serene states are highly desirable, making such medications highly psychologically addictive.
Medical treatment for conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, is the prescription of stimulant drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) and dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Dexedrine), all of which serve to improve a patient’s attention and increase energy and alertness by stimulating the brain’s dopamine release. Release of dopamine is a highly pleasurable experience, often sought after. For this reason, stimulant drugs are highly addictive.
Causes of Addiction to Prescription Drugs
When it comes to addiction to prescription drugs, or any substance for that matter, there are a variety of causal factors. It is the combination of these factors that leads to dependence and addiction. Though two people may be prescribed the same drug, one person may be more likely to develop an addiction than the other, due to genetic and environmental factors and the presence of pre-existing health conditions.
If a person has an immediate relative struggling with addiction they are generally at a greater risk of developing an addiction themselves, in comparison to those without such a family history.
Environmental factors hugely influence one’s potential for development of addiction. Being exposed to substance use and misuse in the home or using drugs from a young age, as well as being surrounded by a peer group who misuse or abuse are highly influential factors in addiction development.
The presence of pre-existing conditions like chronic pain or a psychological disorder creates a high risk of addiction in patients, as they begin to use these medications to treat their condition but eventually become reliant on them to cope on a daily basis, creating a dependence and eventually addiction.
Another unfortunate but common reason why people become addicted to or experience health issues relating to prescription drugs is a lack of proper education on their harmful side effects. Opioid painkillers, for example, work best in the treatment of acute pain conditions, due to their strength. Long term use, however, does not have long-term benefits and serves to perpetuate a dependence. A prevalent belief among patients and unfortunately many physicians is that all pain can be relieved. This belief leads to the overprescription of many prescription drugs where it is not always necessary.
Symptoms of Withdrawal from Prescription Drugs
At Brazos Recovery Services we understand that one of the most important parts of treatment for prescription drug addiction is safe detox and management of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal that follow cessation of use can be so severely uncomfortable that a person may continue using solely to avoid these symptoms. Withdrawal from opioid painkillers consists of increased agitation, profuse sweating, cramping, diarrhea, feelings of nausea and anxiety, muscle pain, and insomnia.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal leaves users in a state of confusion, prone to hallucinations and seizures, tremors, physical weakness, coma, and even death.
Withdrawal from prescription stimulants leads to fatigue, insomnia, vivid nightmares, and agitation of psychomotor function, during which a person will become increasingly restless and compulsively move objects, or tap things excessively.
Comprehensive Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
The treatment program at Brazos Recovery Services is centred around making recovery for patients as achievable as possible. Though treatment types vary depending the length and severity of the addiction, it is effective, and recovery is always possible.
Our medical staff are available and ready to guide patients through the full detox and withdrawal phase of recovery, be that in an inpatient or outpatient setting. There are pros and cons to outpatient vs. residential rehab, which we discuss with patients during an initial assessment. During this assessment we also investigate any underlying health issues that a patient may have not previously identified, which creates for us a clear picture from which we can develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment services offered over the course of a typical residential program (which last as long as a patient needs) include individual and group therapy, which serve to educate patients on healthy coping skills and craving management. We understand that a full residential program may not be suitable for some patients due to other commitments and responsibilities, which is why treatment is also available in the form of day treatment and outpatient programs.
Our approach to addiction treatment is based around the 12-step addiction model and provides patients with a strong recovery support network and collaborative involvement in treatment recovery.
Our highly skilled psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellors, and therapists are non-judgmental and are compassionate in patient care. Throughout treatment, unhealthy behaviors and thought processes will be challenged and effective tools for self-management even after primary treatment will be developed.