Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment
Though we rely on prescription drugs for many positive benefits in our lives, including pain relief, symptom management, and help with chronic ailments, they can pose a risk of addiction. Opioid-based medications, typically used to control pain, are particularly addictive, as are mood-stabilizing medications including benzodiazepines. If you’re struggling with addiction to prescription drugs, we can help you find a path towards recovery.
What is prescription drug addiction?
The Mayo Clinic describes prescription drug addiction as follows: “The use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor.” When use of the prescribed drug exceeds the dosage, frequency, or duration instructed by the physician, addiction often follows.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include:
- Opioids used to treat pain
- Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium,
Ativan), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
- Stimulants (such as Adderall or Ritalin) used to treat attention deficit disorder and
narcolepsy (a sleep disorder)
When we hear of a drug overdose, we often assume heroin abuse or some other illegal drug was the cause. In reality, more people die from prescription drug overdose than from cocaine, heroin, hypnotics, and stimulants combined. Opioid painkillers have been linked to the greatest percentage of overdose deaths. Data from the CDC estimates that “On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” Further, the CDC states, “Death from narcotic prescription painkillers – drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl – have increased fivefold since 1999.”
What makes prescription drugs addictive?
When taken as prescribed, prescription painkillers and other medications offer much- needed relief. But, even when prescribing physicians educate and closely monitor patients, prescription drugs may become overused or misused, often leading to dependence or addiction.
Even when prescription drugs are used as prescribed, the body may adapt to the prescribed dosage. When this happens, the body demands more of the substance to achieve the desired effect. The cycle continues as the patient craves more, and addiction sets in. Physiological changes in the brain and central nervous system drive the need for more drugs, affecting impulse control and sound decision making.
Signs and Symptoms of prescription drug abuse
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse can manifest physically, psychologically, and/or behaviorally. Physical symptoms often include disrupted sleep patterns, increased or decreased energy levels, nausea, headache, dizziness, reduced appetite, and constipation. More serious physical signs may include:
- Irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Higher than normal body temperature
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
Psychological signs that may indicate prescription drug abuse are often evidenced by confusion, poor memory, poor concentration, agitation, mood swings, poor decision- making, disorientation, and paranoia.
There are also behavioral signs that prescription drug abuse may be occurring. Warning signs can include:
- Claiming to have lost a prescription and requesting new one
- Requesting early refills
- Visiting multiple doctors seeking prescriptions
- Stealing prescription drugs from friends or family
- Taking higher dosages than prescribed
How is prescription drug addiction treated?
Drug addiction is a complex disease, which includes not only physical dependence on a drug, but also social and psychological components. Because of this, it is extremely difficult for users to overcome addiction on their own. It can also be dangerous if undertaken without medical supervision. The detoxification process can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, which, when supervised by a medical professional, can be counteracted or minimized with proper medications.
Research has demonstrated that prescription drug addiction is a brain disorder that can be effectively treated by qualified professionals. Residential treatment centers that combine individual and group therapy, 12 step programs, and closely monitored medications, in an extended care program of up to 12 months or longer, typically have the highest success rates.
Withdrawal symptoms from prescription drugs
Withdrawal side-effects from prescription drugs can range from uncomfortable to severe and can begin within a few hours of the drug’s last use. While physical symptoms caused by withdrawal may vary depending on the abused drug, they often include stomach cramps, pain, muscle spasms, insomnia, pounding heart, and an overall feeling of sickness. Feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear are also common effects of withdrawal. Withdrawal from certain medications may cause delusions or hallucinations.
There are medications that can mitigate the discomfort of withdrawal. One that has been recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is lofexidine. While there are other medications used to treat withdrawal symptoms, this is the first medication approved specifically to reduce side-effects of opioid withdrawal in adults.
A holistic approach to addiction recovery
In our holistic approach, Midwest Recovery Centers focuses on strengthening and supporting the entire person – mind, body, and spirit. Our underlying philosophy to treating prescription drug abuse is based on the principles of 12-step programs, emphasizing accountability, respect and recovery.
Midwest Recovery Centers extended care treatment model includes 2 phases
Phase I includes intense individual and group counseling, 12 step meetings, medical supervision, and closely monitored activities and events. This phase may last up to 90 days.
Phase II has less structure, as clients begin to transition back into society. This phase may last up to 6 months and includes:
- 4 hours of group therapy per week, minimum
- Continued follow-ups with medical director as needed
- 2 UA tests weekly for compliance purposes
- Individual sessions available to clients as needed
- Continued daily 12-step meetings
- Staff supervision at the residence
During this phase, clients are encouraged to seek employment and begin contributing to their own living expenses.
With a wealth of education and experience, the clinical team at Midwest Recovery specializes in addiction treatment and recovery from prescription drug abuse. Our programs address drug and alcohol addictions, co-occurring disorders, and many other symptoms associated with addiction. Midwest Recovery Centers also has strong partnerships with community professionals specializing in the areas of trauma, eating disorders, PTSD, personality disorders, and other dual-diagnoses.
Midwest Recovery Centers’ tiered series of recovery programs are designed to educate and support clients, giving them tools they need to successfully manage their addiction for the long term.