Prescription Drug Abuse
Deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury/death in the United States, ahead of deaths linked to motor vehicles and firearms, according to the new 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A surprising 50 percent of U.S. drug overdoses are caused by prescription drugs, 22,000 annually, according to a new report, The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy.
Prescription drug abuse is intentionally taking medication in a way that was not prescribed. For example, some people may do this to get high or change their mood.
The most common types of prescription drugs abused include:
- Opioids (used to treat pain)
- Benzodiazepines (used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders)
- Stimulants (used to treat attention deficit disorder)
Abuse of these medications can cause serious health effects, including addiction, overdose and even death. Many people are not aware of these potential risks.
The risk of harm, overdose, and death rises when these medications are:
- Taken at higher doses
- Taken in a different way or for different reasons than prescribed
- Used with alcohol or other substances (prescription, over-the-counter or illegal drugs)
Treatment options for prescription drug abuse vary, depending on the type of drug abused and your needs. But counseling, or sometimes psychotherapy, is typically a key part of treatment. Treatment may also require withdrawal (detoxification), addiction medication and recovery support.
Treatment for prescription drug abuse is, in many ways, similar to treatment for other types of drug addictions. Before successful treatment can begin, a person must first recognize and admit that an addiction exists. The exact treatment for prescription drug abuse will then depend on the individual, as well as the type of drug being abused. Typically, treatment will include some form of detoxification from the drug, as well as intensive therapy. Sometimes other drugs given in a controlled setting may be necessary to ease prescription drug addiction cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction to alcohol and other mind-altering substances is a neurological disease, but is one that can be cured with time and a thorough commitment to a treatment program. Beyond abstaining from a drug, treatment for prescription drug abuse includes equipping addicts with tools to cope with life off of drugs. This usually begins with individual therapy, but may also include group or family therapy if it will assist the addict in working on some of the underlying issues that led to addiction, as well as offering support in repairing damaged relationships that may have occurred as the result of addiction.
While it is not considered a treatment for prescription drug abuse alone, detoxification is a necessary part of an overall treatment strategy. This includes completely abstaining from the substance an individual is addicted to. Many addicts try detoxification alone, believing it is enough to cure an addiction, but detoxification is just the first step in treating drug abuse, as counseling and more intensive, long-term strategies are always necessary. In fact, addiction experts do not recommend that individuals addicted to benzodiazepines attempt withdrawal on their own without undergoing supervised medical treatment for prescription drug abuse, as withdrawal from benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium or Ativan, can be dangerous.
Treatment for prescription drug abuse will, at times, include a medical detox to help free a person from physical drug dependency. This is particularly true for individuals who were addicted to opioids, such as codeine or morphine, which are commonly prescribed to treat pain. Treatment for prescription drug abuse often includes a tapering off of drugs. By gradually decreasing dosages, withdrawal symptoms may be lessened, as well as the mental anxiety of being off of the drug may be lessened, too. With therapeutic supervision, a person may learn to gradually cope with life drug-free once again. Overall, treatment for prescription drug abuse takes time, patience and a staunch dedication to the process of stopping prescription medication abuse.
At Coast to Coast Recovery we have been helping people from all walks of life find freedom from prescription drug abuse. Knowing the right way to approach someone addicted to prescription medications and finding the right program fit are crucial to the long term health and quality of life for the person addicted. Coast to Coast Recovery will help you and/or a loved one find the right fit and approach and will walk you through this process all the way to its successful completion.