man sitting in window seat has prescription drug addictionPrescription drug addiction is a serious and quickly growing epidemic, claiming countless victims who fall prey to substance dependency. Addiction to any mind-altering substance is dangerous and potentially lethal; however, since prescription drugs are usually prescribed by a physician, those abusing the medications feel that prescription drug abuse greatly differs from the abuse of street drugs. The bottom line is that prescription drug addicts are in fact addicted, just like those who become hooked on drugs like heroin, cocaine, or other illegal substances.

How It’s Done

Prescription drug addicts use medications to a much greater extent than the purpose for which they were originally prescribed. Whether an individual is simply taking more than the recommended dose of Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Lexapro or Celexa, or actively abusing pain medications like Vicodin or Percocet, using prescription drugs in any way other than indicated can lead to a dependence on, and addiction to, prescription drugs. Prescription drug addicts depend on their drugs to make them feel better and can easily experience cravings between usage. Despite the negative consequences, which include relationship difficulties, problems at work, or health complications, prescription drug abuse continues for the individual who is addicted to them.

Red Flags of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are many signs that an individual is addicted to prescription drugs. Prescription drug abusers may complain about either vague or acute symptoms in order to obtain more medication and may show a lack of interest in treatment options other than medication. A habitual prescription drug abuser is prone to frequent mood swings, anxiety, and physical discomfort. Commonly, most prescription drug addicts have a past history of drug addiction and/or abuse. To hide their addiction, many prescription drug addicts will visit different doctors or pharmacies to get more pills. The addiction may take an individual so far as to steal prescription medication from others.

Once a prescription drug addict stops abusing medication, a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms may be experienced such as anxiety, depression, bone or muscle pain; difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of interest in pleasurable activities; hallucinations, tremors, nausea, and vomiting.

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Your Brain On Drugs

Addiction to prescription drugs changes the brain’s chemistry just as illegal illicit drugs do, making it less effective at producing naturally produced chemicals such as dopamine or endorphins. When the brain stops making these chemicals as a result of abusing medication, they must be introduced to the brain by continuing to take more medication. At this point, physical dependency has been initiated.

Prescription Drugs And Seniors

Seniors are at particular risk for addictions to prescription drugs because they are prescribed more drugs than others. Seniors may be prescribed medication for irregular sleep patterns, or they may be prescribed tranquilizers or pain killers as a means to recover from a traumatic event, such as physical injury or death of a loved one. The individual is able to sleep better or cope with pain or anxiety: however, once the medication runs out, they return to the doctor for another prescription and, thus, the addiction cycle begins.

There Is A Solution

Treatment for prescription drug addiction is available. A drug rehabilitation facility can aid in prescription drug treatment including interventions, detox, rehabilitation and recovery. In recovering from addiction, an individual is strongly encouraged to enroll in an inpatient program where medications are administered and closely monitored. Aftercare for inpatient rehabilitation can include therapy sessions, 12-step programs and sober living houses where a healthy, sober lifestyle is emphasized and promoted. Participating in addiction support groups can also go a long way in recovering from prescription drug addiction.