Regular misuse and abuse of prescription drugs will inevitably lead to dependence on the substance. Physical dependence can occur even during normal use of the drug, but abuse leads to further knock-on effects like interpersonal issues, financial struggle, mental health issues [or exacerbation of existing issues], physical problems and high risk of accidental death. This is where treatment programs can assist.
Prescription drug abuse, specifically, occurs when drugs available on prescription with legitimate medical use are misused in ways not overseen by a medical professional. This often leads to the development of prescription drug abuse. This can include:
Physical tolerance soon builds up, and dependency can occur. More pills are needed to achieve the same effects as the body adapts to the drug’s effects. This physical dependence can be weaned off, but where psychological dependence and cravings occur, abuse follows. Prescription drug abuse also occurs when patients find themselves doing the following:
We are seeing epidemic-like growth of prescription drug abuse. This is partially attributed to over-prescription of certain medications by doctors with their heart in the right places- why should patients suffer through pain unnecessarily- not precisely informing patients that these drugs do not need to be taken past the end of pain and finishing courses, or taking ‘as needed’ and ending up symptomatically addicted by the end of the run. This, and handing out painkillers without ample investigation of the patient’s pain levels and aftercare, create an environment where abuse occurs easily.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall in several categories:
These are also the most addictive prescription drugs available. We explore each of these categories of drug in greater depth on the site, so please click through.
Several steps have been taken in recent years to encourage less prescription medication abuse:
Long term use of prescription drugs, especially addiction, makes for larger doses being needed to feel the same effects. There’s many issues that can stem from this misuse:
These issues are often exacerbated by combining with other drugs or alcohol, increasing the risk of side effects, medical emergencies and the blunting of the needed effects of the medication. It may otherwise intensify effects [this often happens with opiates and benzos]. Multiple use of substances makes it much more difficult to gauge what will happen within the body and what damage might be done. Should you have legitimate reason to take multiple drugs together, it is always advised to double check the interaction list with your pharmacy, especially if the scripts come from different specialists or doctors.
Prescription drugs will stay in your system doe a length of time effected by:
Extended release tablets generally clear the system around about the time of the next suggested pill dose.
You will likely need to get medical assistance with safely withdrawing from prescription drug abuse. Most require a slow step down to allow physical tolerance to pass, and quitting cold turkey can be very dangerous. Addiction that features psychological dependence/craving will need to have this addressed by a comprehensive treatment program. Look for rehab schedules that promote medical detox, co-occurring treatment of mental issues, personalised treatment plans, family education and aftercare support.
Honesty is truly the best policy here. Many may not understand that addiction is a chronic condition, and you may face criticism, but stand firm and stay on track with your plan to seek help. You can always enlist the assistance of a specially trained counsellor or even members of a 12 step program to give you support and help you stick to your plans.
Some prescription medicine abuse treatment programs will use pharmaceutical interventions to help minimise withdrawal symptoms. There are also some ‘step down’ drugs like Methadone [used in handling prescription opiate abuse] which can be appropriate. However, these drugs themselves carry serious side effects and can only be used under correct medical supervision.
Yes. Many addicts who enlist the help of professional drug treatment centres return to a meaningful, sober life. Relapse, however, can strike with alarming frequency [see the stats here at the Irish Medical Journal]. The more dedicated to your Partial hospitalization treatment program you are, the greater your chances of remaining sober. Remember that addiction is a disease, and relapse can be its major symptom. Relapse happens. Seek help and get back on the path. Aftercare support and relapse prevention therapy will help you stay on track. You can do it.