Prescription Medication Addiction
Most people view imprudent use of prescription drugs as inconsequential in comparison to hard core drugs. The fact that they are made by respectable companies, prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies, reinforces that perception.
Social Tolerance of Prescription Drugs
Although intended for health improvement, many prescription drugs are, unfortunately, also potentially addictive, with similar effects and consequences as “hard” drugs or illegal substances.
Because of the widespread legal availability of prescription drugs, it is more difficult for authorities to control their illegal exploitation than it is to combat “hard” drugs. Consequently, addiction is prevalent and growing.
Addictive Prescription Medications
Addictive prescription drugs can be classified as:
- Opioids: Intended mainly for pain, flu and coughing.
- Depressants: Intended mainly for anxiety, sleep disorders, pain and seizures.
- Stimulants: Intended mainly for improved energy, concentration, focus and mood elevation.
Examples of Prescription Addictions
Opioids are good examples of commonly abused prescription drugs:
- Pain Killers: Most prescription drugs for pain are opium derivatives that interact with receptors in the brain to activate feelings of pain relief, drowsiness, pleasure and contentment.
- Opiates: Natural drugs derived from the opium plant, but also available as synthetic drugs with similar functions. The term “opiate” is being phased out and replaced by “opioid” to describe these formulations. Primarily used for pain management.
- Codeine: A natural plant alkaloid extracted from opium. This opioid is used for mild to moderate pain, as well as cough medicines.
- Demerol: A potent depressant opoid for acute, but not chronic, pain. Contains meperidine, a high risk substance for abuse and addiction, due to its euphoric effect.
- Fentanyl: Very potent depressant opioid for chronic, severe pain due to painful diseases, nerve damage, skeletal injuries and invasive surgery.
- Hydrocodone: Semi-synthetic opioid containing acetaminophen. For moderate to acute pain, as well as chronic pain and fever reduction. Mostly sold under the brand name Tylenol.
- Methadone: An opioid depressant for management of severe pain. Also used as an aid during the treatment of addiction involving other opioid drugs.
- Morphine: Opioid alkaloid extracted from the opium plant, and produced synthetically. Acts directly on the central nervous system to dull feelings of pain. Used for acute and chronic pain.
- Oxycodone: A narcotic depressant opioid used for moderate to severe pain. Also available as a compound tablet with non-steroidal, anti-inflamatory aspirin to reduce swelling.
- Oxycontin: A brand name version of oxycodone for treating pain severe enough to require daily, long-term opioid treatment for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.
- Percocet: Brand name for a combination drug used for moderate to severe pain. Contains a narcotic opioid pain reliever (oxycodone), as well as a non-opoid pain killer (acetaminophen) which increases the effects.
- Tramadol: A synthetic opioid used for moderate to severe pain. It produces an energetic feeling as a side-effect, unlike other opioids which cause drowsiness. Can be combined with acetaminophen to reduce fever.
Reasons for Prescription Drug Addiction
7 reasons why people become addicted to prescription drugs:
- Increasing the dosage because they think it will accelerate healing.
- Using it after the medical need is over, because they enjoy the “high”.
- Mixing it with other drugs to enhance the impact of the other drugs.
- To suppress the unwanted side-effects of their other regular drugs.
- Using it as a substitute when they stop using another drug.
- To stay awake, energetic, alert, sociable, meet work deadlines.
- To reduce emotional distress, or to overcome sleep disorders.
Prescription Drug Addiction Recovery
In most cases medical detoxification, and other medications for controlling the withdrawals, is required, accompanied by treatment of physical ailments. Psychotherapy is required for successful long-term recovery.