Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The National Institute on Drug Addiction reports that an average of 16 million people above 12 use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in the US every year.
This statistic is alarming, especially considering that similar to illegal drugs, prescription medication can alter the brain’s functioning when abused.
And it gets even worse as prescription drug addiction can lead to serious consequences like overdoses and reduced quality of life if not addressed early enough.
But is it possible to treat prescription drug addiction? Fortunately, prescription drug dependence is treatable as long as victims receive support from both licensed professionals and their loved ones.
In this read, we’ll take a closer look at the most commonly abused prescription drugs and highlight some of the proven ways to treat the addiction.
Ready? Then let’s get straight to business.
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Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs come in three main categories, opioids, stimulants, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants, as discussed below.
Prescription opioids are drugs used to manage mild to severe pain by blocking pain signals between the central nervous system and the body.
Opioids manage to ease pain by altering chemical levels in the brain, prompting the release of large amounts of dopamine. This results in emotions like happiness, relaxation, and calmness despite undergoing a physically painful experience.
And while prescription opioids are useful in pain management, they can be highly addictive due to the euphoria resulting from consumption.
Taking more than enough prescription opioids not only increases the risk of addiction but it also heightens the chances of death due to breathing failure.
Some of the commonly abused opioids include;
Drugs in this class have the ability to jump-start or stimulate the brain. The usage of stimulants results in increased energy, attention, and alertness.
But as stimulants boost your overall levels of concentration and performance, they also raise your blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate.
Prescription stimulants are usually used to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Attention deficit disorder (ADD), narcolepsy, and at times, depression.
Put simply, prescription stimulants are meant for people with mental health issues that impede focus. These drugs eliminate anxiety and nervousness, assisting patients to remain focused and attentive for prolonged periods.
However, when used for non-medicinal purposes, stimulants can lead to addiction due to their ability to boost energy and increase overall concentration levels.
Some of the commonly abused types of prescription stimulants include;
Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
CNS depressants work by altering a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), thereby making a user drowsy or relaxed due to reduced brain activity.
Depressants are commonly used for anesthesia and treatment of advanced withdrawal symptoms like seizures.
And while taking CNS depressants to treat severe withdrawal symptoms can help make recovery easier, the feel-good vibes associated with the drugs can easily lead to addiction.
Even worse, combining CNS depressants with drugs like alcohol can reduce heartbeat, slow breathing, and eventually lead to death.
Benzodiazepines like valium, xanax, and ativan are common examples of frequently abused CNS depressants. People also abuse barbiturates like luminal, nembutal, amytal, and seconal, which are highly addictive and can lead to dependence if abused for as little as a month.
Ways To Treat Prescription Drug Addiction
Detox is usually the first step in addiction treatment. A medical detox program usually uses medication therapies or alternative medicine techniques to reduce withdrawal effects.
Unfortunately, people abusing prescription opioids and CNS depressants might experience seizures and other mild to severe withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit.
Therefore, to reduce the chances of injury or even fatal outcomes, it is highly advisable to enroll yourself (or a loved one) in a detox program. Detoxing in a licensed facility ensures clients receive round-the-clock monitoring as drug toxins are flushed from the body.
Detoxing alone is not enough, as despite removing drugs from the system, it does not treat addiction or the underlying causes of drug abuse.
Rehab facilities usually administer therapy services to help address the root causes of addiction, thereby reducing the chances of relapses. With the help of a licensed therapist, you’ll learn positive ways to overcome cravings and maintain sobriety months and years after treatment.
Therapy prepares patients for life after treatment.
Some of the commonly used psychotherapies to treat prescription drug addiction include;
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Contingency management intervention
- Motivational interviewing
Most inpatient rehabs combine psychotherapy with experiential therapy to ensure clients heal holistically.
Please note that experiential therapies offered vary from facility to facility, depending on location and type (i.e., luxury or state-funded).
Commonly used experiential therapies include;
- Music and arts
- Recreational therapy
Addiction recovery is a lifelong process that requires consistency and commitment to avoid relapses. Fortunately, there are tons of support groups for people recovering from prescription drug addiction treatment.
Most rehabs will recommend relevant support groups as part of an aftercare plan to patients.
Moreover, a large number of rehabs have robust alumni programs that provide graduates with a platform to interact, network, and support each other months and even years after completing treatment.
Graduates who join support groups are more likely to maintain sobriety than those who don’t join aftercare programs after completing treatment.
With support groups, peers get to interact and hold one another accountable, which goes a long way in maintaining motivation to fight off cravings and remain sober.
Is Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Necessary?
When used for non-medical reasons, prescription drugs can lead to dependence and eventually long-term addiction.
Quitting these drugs is easier said than done, as most people give in to cravings hours, let alone days after the last fix.
Therefore, it is highly advisable to enroll in an addiction treatment center, preferably an inpatient rehab, to receive round-the-clock supervision and intense, hands-on treatment.
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