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Over the past few years, the growing epidemic of prescription pill addiction has consistently made front page news. While truly effective when used as prescribed an as part of an overall care program, many prescription pills have a high potential for addiction–and many end of abusing them long after their medical care has ended. Many who take prescription medications have assumptions these drugs are “safe” because they are prescribed by a doctor or physician. In reality, a significant number of people get hooked on these drugs–and the side effects they experience have the potential to pose serious health risks and can even be life-threatening. For those who are addicted to prescription pills, it is imperative they find professional help in order to break the cycle of abuse once and for all. The experienced professionals at Dedicato Treatment Center employ a staff of highly trained licensed and certified clinicians, and they will be able to help you to start on the road to recovery.
What is the Severity of Prescription Drug Addiction in the United States?
While prescription medication abuse and addiction has garnered much attention nationwide, many people don’t realize just so severe this epidemic is and how many people it is affecting on a daily basis. According to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), 52 million people in the United States over the age of 12 have used prescription pills non-medically in their lifetime. Equally as startling is the fact that the United States only comprises 5 percent of the world’s population, yet consumes 75 percent of the available prescription medications. In the past month, just over 6 million Americans over 12 years of age have abused prescription pills recreationally. It was also estimated that in 2010 there were enough prescription medications in the United States to medicate every American adult every 4 hours for one month. Of the nearly 9 million people who were abusing prescription medications in 2010, nearly two-thirds were abused painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet. These statistics not only point out the scope of prescription drug abuse in the United States, it also points out our country’s over-reliance on prescription pills. When it comes to obtaining these medications, people who abuse prescription medications do so in a variety of ways. For example, some who are hooked on prescription pills may go to their doctor and fake symptoms in order to obtain more drugs. If their primary doctor or physician refuses, those who are addicted may go to other doctors in a process called doctor shopping. Additionally, those addicted to prescription pills may ask friends or family members for their extra medications or may even purchase them on the black market from a dealer.
What are The Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Pill Addiction?
The signs and symptoms of prescription pill addiction share some of the same characteristics but will differ in degree and severity depending on the type of prescription medication that is being abused. In general, there are three types of prescription medications: opioids, anti-anxiety medications and sedatives and stimulants. The first–and most commonly abused–prescription medication category are opioids. Opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin are used to treat chronic and severe pain due to surgical procedures or in debilitating diseases such as cancer. The common symptoms of opioid abuse include:
- Slowed or labored breathing
- Increased pain with increased dosage
- Impaired speech and coordination
The second prescription medication category are anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, Valium and Ambien, these medications have sedative and/or hypnotic properties and are used commonly to treat anxiety as well as a number of sleep disorders. The common signs and symptoms seen with abuse of these medications include:
- Poor Concentration
- Memory problems
- Impaired and slurred speech
The third and last type of prescription medications are stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. These medications are popular in treating ADHD and other attention disorders. The common signs and symptoms of these medications include the following:
- Reduced appetite
- High blood pressure
Seeking Help for Prescription Pill Addiction
As with an addiction to any other substance, breaking the cycle of abuse with prescription medications does not happen in a single step. Instead, proper treatment for prescription pill addiction is comprised off several important steps that must be successfully completed in order to give you the best chance at long-term recovery. These medications have significant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, and trying to abruptly quit them “cold turkey” or through other means of self-detoxification can be extremely dangerous to your health. In order to minimize the symptoms associated with withdrawal, it is important to undergo detoxification in a safe environment and under the close supervision of clinical staff. During the detox process, you may be given medications in order to make withdrawal more tolerable. Once you are in a substance free and stable state, you will transition into formal and intensive drug treatment. During treatment, you will be given an individualized treatment plan that draws from a wide variety of services including individual and group therapy, life and coping skills training, relapse prevention education and even holistic-based treatments such as animal therapy, yoga, acupuncture, and music therapy. You also will be highly encouraged to attend aftercare programs once formal drug treatment has ended. Aftercare programs such as intensive outpatient and sober living will give you the extra support you need to make your transition back to your home life easier and less stressful.