Medical and mental health providers across the nation prescribe controlled substances every day. In addition to drugs used in medical settings, controlled substances are also illegal or illicit substances. Although many people understand certain drugs are likely to be classified as controlled substances (such as narcotic pain medications), many do not realize now many commonly prescribed medications are actually listed as controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
What are Controlled Substances?
Controlled substances are prescription or illicit drugs that are regulated by the controlled substances act or CSA. The controlled substances act was passed by Congress when it became apparent that certain medications carry a significant risk for abuse, misuse, or independence. This Controlled Substances Act is a part of the greater Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.
A key element in understanding your relationship with controlled substance addiction begins with understanding more about controlled substances and how common mental health and pain-relieving drugs are classified according to the Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act categorizes potentially addictive substances regulated under federal law into specific schedules. These schedules are divided based on how addictive and potentially dangerous a drug might be. The schedule that applies to a particular drug is based on certain factors, including its medical use, the potential for addiction, and the potential for abuse. The CSA dictates five schedules of drugs.
Schedule I Drugs
Schedule I drugs are drugs that currently have no federally accepted medical use in the United States. In general, these drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted safe use even under medical supervision. Common examples of schedule one drugs include heroin, LSD, PCP, Opioid Maintenance Therapy, MDA, Ecstasy, and GHB.
It is important to note, however, that marijuana is also a Schedule I drug. Marijuana is the only Schedule I drug with legal medicinal and recreational uses in many states. For this reason, many people believe marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug should be changed to allow researchers the freedom further to investigate the benefits of marijuana for medicinal use.
Schedule II Drugs
Schedule II drugs also have a significant potential for abuse. These drugs differ from schedule I drugs only because they currently have an accepted medical use. Common examples of schedule II substances include methamphetamine, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Dilaudid, Demerol, morphine, Fentanyl, Opioid Maintenance Therapy, Ritalin, Adderall, and cocaine.
Schedule III Drugs
Schedule III drugs currently have accepted medical uses in the United States and carry less abuse potential than Schedule I or Schedule II drugs. However, abuse of a Schedule III drug can still lead to a physical and psychological dependence of varying degrees. Examples of Schedule III drugs include barbiturates, hydrocodone, codeine, suboxone, and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV Drugs
Schedule IV drugs have a lower potential for abuse compared to the other Schedules. Like Schedule III drugs, a drug or substance classified as a Schedule IV drug has an accepted medical use. Misuse of these substances may lead to physical and psychological dependence, although potentially less severe than Schedule III drugs. Common examples of Schedule IV drugs include Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin.
Schedule V Drugs
Schedule V drugs have a relatively low potential for abuse or dependency. Abuse of a Schedule V substance may lead to physical dependence or psychological dependence. An example of a Schedule V drug would be cough medicines that contain codeine.
Recognizing Controlled Substance Addiction
There are several risks associated with controlled substance use. Because a medical provider prescribes these medications to treat specific conditions, including pain, anxiety, sleeping troubles, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other mental health conditions, it can be challenging to understand when the line is crossed between affective treatment and substance dependency. These drugs are highly effective when used as directed, and for the duration that they are prescribed. However, long-term use of any controlled substance medication can lead to severe risks, including physical and psychological dependency.
It is important to know the warning signs of controlled substance addiction so that you and your loved one can seek early addiction treatment at a treatment center like The Hills to overcome addiction before significant physical or psychological health problems develop. Signs of addiction are generally divided into three categories: physical, behavioral, and psychological. It is also important to remember that some of the “signs” of addiction may also mimic the desired effect of specific drugs. Therefore, it is essential to understand if the warning signs you see in a friend or loved one indicate a growing level of dependency on a particular substance.
Typical examples of physical signs of addiction to most controlled substances include stomach issues such as nausea or vomiting, sleeping problems including sleeping too much or not at all, appetite changes including weight loss or weight gain, slurred speech, watery eyes, changes in pupil size, and signs of other new physical health conditions or illnesses.
When someone is addicted to a controlled substance, they will also experience various emotional and behavioral changes. You may notice your loved one’s personality seems different. You may also see a difference in their social circles, increased isolation, lack of concern for former hobbies or interests, poor work or academic performance, increased secrecy, irritability, excessive happiness, angry outbursts, stealing, or worsening pre-existing mental health symptoms. Someone with a controlled substance addiction may also struggle with legal and financial problems related to increasing dependency on a particular substance.
Seeking Help to Overcome Controlled Substance Addiction
Millions of people struggle with addictions to controlled substances every day. Unfortunately, substance addiction is a disease that knows no demographic. Therefore, people of all ages, economic standing, religions, ethnic backgrounds, or cultural heritage can struggle with a controlled substance addiction. Because many of these substances are provided by medical providers, prescriptions are issued to people of all ages and for many different reasons. Although controlled substance use is highly beneficial in addressing specific mental and physical health conditions, many of these drugs carry a high risk for dependency and addiction. Once an addiction develops, it is not easily overcome without help from a treatment center like The Hills in Los Angeles.
Many controlled substances lead to physical and psychological dependence. This means when you try to stop using them, withdrawal symptoms will occur that affect your physical and emotional health. Depending on the drug, how long you’ve used it, and the severity of your addiction, these symptoms can be severe and sometimes overwhelming. In some cases, certain drugs can cause dangerous and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. In many cases, the best way to begin a journey to sobriety and overcome a dependency on controlled substances is at a professional detox program where medically assisted detox services are available to you.
If you or a loved one has developed a dependency or addiction to a controlled substance, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if you try to reduce or stop taking it. This is especially true of Schedule I, II, and III substances. This is not to say that Schedule IV or V substances cannot lead to withdrawal symptoms; however, they are generally less severe. Some drugs lead to more significant physical symptoms, and others cause more unpleasant psychological symptoms. The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms you experience will inevitably be different from those of someone else. Because it is impossible to predict who may or may not experience potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from specific drugs (such as opioids or benzodiazepines), seeking help at a treatment center is crucial to ensure that you have the support and guidance you need to safely and effectively detox.
After completing detox at a treatment center, it is easy to transition into a treatment program designed to help you understand the roots of your addiction. People turn to substances for a variety of reasons. For some, certain drugs were prescribed to help manage post-surgical pain, chronic pain, or various mental and physical health conditions. In these cases, using prescription drugs to help manage their symptoms leads to a dependency on the effects of the substance. In time, dependence evolves into addiction. In other cases, substance abuse may develop out of experimentation with illicit street drugs or seeking a substitute for a prescription drug that is no longer available. Some statistics show that many first-time heroin users turn to heroin because it is the “next best thing” to certain prescription opioids when they can no longer get their prescriptions filled or renewed.
As part of a comprehensive, individually designed treatment program at our luxury Los Angeles treatment center, our skilled and compassionate treatment team will work with you to overcome controlled substance addiction and learn how to manage your symptoms without using drugs. We offer a wide range of evidence-based treatments and alternative therapies designed to provide the most holistic, well-rounded treatment programs possible. We understand that the decision to seek help is not easy. Many factors keep people from reaching out to an addiction treatment center to begin their journey towards sobriety. However, statistics show the most effective way to maintain lasting sobriety and freedom from the struggles of addiction is by completing an addiction treatment program.
Choosing the best treatment center for you depends on a range of factors. If you struggle with a severe addiction, relapsing addiction, or an addiction to specific controlled substances that can lead to powerful and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms (such as opioids and benzodiazepines), choosing an inpatient residential program like The Hills is the safest way to overcome addiction and maintain your journey towards lasting recovery. Our treatment staff can help ensure you detox safely, and provide support and guidance as you progress through therapy and a comprehensive aftercare planning period. To learn more about our programs and how we can help you or a loved one overcome controlled substance addiction, contact a member of our admissions team today.