Common Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Common Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Each year, medical and mental health providers write thousands of prescriptions to address a range of medical and mental health conditions. Because these drugs are recommended by a trusted medical professional, many people do not consider the addictive nature of many prescription substances. Each year, millions of people develop an addiction to drugs of all kinds, including prescription drugs.

Are Prescription Drugs Addictive?

In short, yes. Many prescription medications are highly addictive. People who abuse prescription medications (taking drugs in a manner other than prescribed or taking drugs prescribed for someone else) are at an increased risk of developing an addiction to prescription drugs. For this reason, prescriptions for most medications are limited to a limited duration. Most prescription drugs are only used for 30 to 60 days.

It is also important for medical and mental health providers to properly assess patients to determine if they have previously struggled with a substance use disorder. This means deciding whether the individual has previously been treated for drug addiction or if a family member has a history of substance abuse or addiction before prescribing a potentially addictive substance.

What are the Dangers of Prescription Drug Use?

Prescription drugs are essential components of many different treatment plans. They help people manage chronic pain, post-surgical discomfort, mental health symptoms, and unpleasant symptoms related to drug or alcohol withdrawal. Although there are many benefits to prescription medications, the use of these drugs is not without potential danger.

When included as part of a treatment plan, prescription drugs are limited to short-term use. This is because they are (typically) highly addictive, and dependency can develop rapidly. Once you are dependent on a substance, your body struggles to function normally when you are not using it.

Also, dependency on prescription drugs can lead to worsening physical and psychological symptoms. Many prescription medications alter how the brain functions. Some even change the structure of the brain. These changes lead to significant alternations in how the brain communicates with vital systems in the body. Without treatment to safely detox and overcome dependency on prescription drugs, it is possible to experience worsening physical and mental illness while using and trying to stop.

Finally, abuse of prescription drugs can lead to death; for some, death results from an overdose. In other cases, side effects of ongoing use lead to other illnesses that can cause loss of life. Also, some people may turn to “street drugs” like heroin when they can no longer access prescription drugs. When trying to chase the high they have grown accustomed to, struggling addicts may overdose on heroin or similar substances either intentionally or unintentionally when those substances are mixed with other drugs.

Common Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Common signs of prescription drug abuse will vary based on the substance and other factors related to the individual. These may include how much you use, how often you use, how long you have struggled with addiction, and whether you engage in polysubstance abuse (using multiple substances together). Despite substance-specific differences, there are several common signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse that are often seen. These include:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using.
  • Mood swings and irritability.
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed or taking a drug prescribed for someone else.
  • Using medications faster than prescribed by taking higher or more frequent doses.
  • Engaging in drug-seeking behaviors.
  • Stealing or forging prescriptions.
  • Increasing financial and legal problems.

In addition to the above, someone abusing prescription drugs will exhibit various physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms. These will also vary based on the substance, but common examples include cognitive problems, problems with judgment, sleeping problems, stomach problems, heart rate changes, diet or weight changes, changes to respiratory rate, new or worsening medical and mental health problems, and legal or financial problems related to drug use.

How to Find Prescription Drug Abuse Rehab Centers

If you or a loved one struggles with prescription drug addiction, it is essential to seek help from a prescription drug abuse rehab center like Relevance Recovery. We will work with you to design a treatment plan that can help you put a dependency on prescription drugs in the past. Contacting a professional rehab is the first step on your journey to lasting sobriety. Contact Relevance Recovery today to learn more about how our prescription drug abuse rehab program can help.

First Responders: Barriers to Mental Health Care

First responders are professionals who generally put themselves at risk on the front lines of emergencies or disasters. First responders include, but are not limited, to police officers, firefighters, military personnel, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Individuals who take on these roles are exposed to physical and mental exhaustion; the intensive nature of these jobs, combined with the stigma and barriers to care, results in the deterrence of seeking assistance to address mental health difficulties. Failure to seek help, or delaying seeking help, slows the recovery time and can lead to severe events, such as suicide or substance abuse.

Barriers

The stigma surrounding therapy is the most frequently identified barrier to seeking mental health care. The stigma around mental health treatment leads to avoidance of seeking help and negatively impacts treatment outcomes. Additional barriers to mental health issues include not knowing where to seek help and having limited resources to find help when needed. Limited resources or having no transportation may serve as a barrier, as necessary services may not be conveniently located. Denial of a need for services or negative past experiences also serves as barriers.

Combating Stigma and Barriers

In order to increase the usage of mental health services, the barriers need to be addressed. Some methods to promote healthier outcomes could include:

  • Psychiatric assessment could be offered in general health care settings instead of district mental health sites to encourage less local knowledge of a person receiving treatment. 
  • Assessments could be implemented as a care routine rather than based on symptoms. 
  • Utilize telehealth platforms to provide mental health services as it allows for a discrete means to attain required services and reduces the sense of judgment. 

Addressing stigma head-on and encouraging help-seeking early will reduce the escalation of serious stress claims.

What is the Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder

What is the Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are different mental health conditions that are frequently confused. Because they share similar symptoms, it is not uncommon for people to wonder if there is a connection between them.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme shifts or alterations in mood. It is estimated that as many as 2.5 million Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, making it a prevalent mental illness in the United States. Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed when one reaches their early twenties; however, diagnosis may occur during childhood or in the teen years, depending on symptoms. Currently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but mental health treatment can minimize the impact of symptoms.

When someone struggles with bipolar disorder, they experience three primary symptoms; mania, hypomania, and depression. Mania occurs when the person goes through a period of intense emotional highs. During mania or a “manic episode,” they will experience various emotions, including excitement, impulsivity, and euphoria. They will also have excessive amounts of energy, impacting their ability to sleep or rest.

Hypomania is a symptom commonly associated with bipolar II disorder. Hypomania is similar to mania; however, symptoms and emotional highs are not as notable or severe. Depressive episodes are the exact opposite of manic episodes. During an episode of depression, feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, loss of energy, and lack of interest in commonly enjoyed activities occur.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality is described as a mental health condition that impacts how someone thinks and feels about themselves and others. Personality disorders like borderline personality disorder are characterized by patterns of thought, behavior, and feelings that are often unhealthy and inflexible. Someone with a borderline personality disorder will often struggle to foster healthy relationships with others.

 They may also have difficulty managing everyday problems in ways others consider “acceptable.”

What is the Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder vs. Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are often confused. Both conditions share many similar symptoms leading people to wonder if there is a connection between the two. To date, science has yet to confirm a link between the two illnesses, and they remain separate diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Several characteristics separate these conditions.

Although mood changes characterize both, the quality of mood change may be different depending on the diagnosis. Someone who struggles with bipolar disorder will often experience mania and depression. In contrast, someone with a borderline personality disorder will experience intense and overwhelming feelings of loneliness, anger, hopelessness, and feelings of emotional pain.

The mood shifts associated with borderline personality disorder are usually short-lived and connected to environmental stressors such as disagreements with a loved one. Conversely, the mood shifts linked to bipolar disorder may last days or weeks and can occur without a known cause.

What Causes Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder?

There is not a specific cause of borderline personality disorder. Like several similar mental health struggles, studies suggest the condition develops out of genetic factors, environmental factors, trauma, and parent/child connections during a child’s developmental stages.

Similarly, bipolar disorder does not have one specific cause. The development of bipolar disorder is linked to brain structure and functioning, family history of the illness, and genetic predisposition.

How to Find Mental Health Treatment for Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder

Each disorder causes different symptoms, and therefore, the treatment methods for borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder vary as well. It is important to find a treatment center where the treatment staff specializes in addressing the symptoms of your condition. It is also essential for your therapeutic team to understand the subtle yet significant differences between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Seeking help at a mental health rehab like Relevance Recovery can help you begin your journey towards putting your symptoms in the past. Although bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are not necessarily “curable,” it is possible to learn safe and effective ways to manage symptoms, so these conditions are less impactful on your day-to-day health and happiness. Let the team at Relevance Recovery show you how as you connect with us to learn more about our programs that may support you along your journey. 

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Programs

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Programs

Drug and alcohol addiction are complex medical challenges faced by millions of people every year. Sadly, fewer than 10% will ever seek the help they need to learn how to overcome addiction or learn the skills required to avoid relapse after getting sober.

What Does it Mean to Relapse?

Many people consider “relapse” as an event. However, it is important to understand that relapse itself is not a singular event or occurrence. Several studies indicate that relapse is actually a process. It is a process that occurs in several stages, including emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. Each step is uniquely characterized by different signals or signs often visible to friends or family of someone struggling with addiction. Understanding these signs and symptoms can help ensure you or a loved one gets the help they need before relapse occurs.

It is vital to point out that relapse is a normal part of addiction recovery. When someone experiences a relapse, it does not mean that they have failed or that treatment has failed. It also does not indicate a failed commitment to sobriety or long-term recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. In most cases, experiencing relapse means that you might need a little more help and support to safely and effectively manage relapse triggers outside of the aftercare or addiction treatment environment.

Why Do People Relapse?

Addiction is often called a chronic relapsing illness. This means, like many other chronic disease processes, symptoms can return even after completing treatment or after remaining sober for some time. Some statistics suggest that up to 60% of people who have completed treatment will experience a relapse at least once. So what causes relapse? In most cases, relapse occurs when you are exposed to triggers. Triggers can be things, emotions, people, or places that “trigger” memories of drinking or using drugs. In some cases, these triggers can cause overwhelming and intense cravings or urges to use. In addition to triggers, there are a few other reasons why relapse occurs. These can include:

Mental health struggles: It is not uncommon for people who struggle with mental health concerns to use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. This situation is referred to as a dual diagnosis. Unfortunately, far too many who struggle with a dual diagnosis do not receive adequate treatment to address the needs or symptoms of both conditions as part of the same treatment program. This means it is possible to leave addiction treatment without addressing your mental health needs adequately. In time, mental health symptoms will return, followed by urges to use drugs or alcohol to dull the symptoms shortly after.

Loss of Motivation: The first days of recovery can be complex and challenging. Keeping busy is vital to ongoing sobriety success for people new to recovery. During treatment and aftercare, you are busy and surrounded by peers who share common goals. Upon leaving treatment, this is not always the case. Many newly recovered addicts struggle with boredom and isolation as they no longer “hang out” with the same friends or frequent the same places. Although this is an effective way to avoid trigger exposure, it can lead to other challenges. In time loneliness, boredom, and reduced motivation can cause relapse.

Poor coping skills: Relapse triggers and stressful situations are an inevitable part of day-to-day life for newly sober people. Although it is unlikely you will experience triggers every day, they will occur, and you must have the tools and skills necessary to manage them in safe and effective ways. When you do not know how to manage or cope with relapse triggers, you are at a more significant risk of relapsing. During treatment, you will learn and practice vital relapse prevention tools. Additionally, participating in an active care program or relapse prevention planning can help you further reinforce these skills. It is vital to take the time you need to solidify your coping skills to ensure you have access to the tools you need to manage challenges to your sobriety adequately.

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Programs

The best way to avoid relapse is to ensure you work with your treatment providers on a relapse prevention program. An individually designed relapse prevention program will help you access the tools you need to manage triggers and stressors. It is important to note that some of the most common causes of relapse include typical daily stressors, increased conflict, financial struggles, work-related problems, and emotional difficulties.Because many of these are unavoidable parts of daily life, a well-planned relapse prevention program can help you identify the emotions and situations that could be triggering while providing healthy and constructive ways to manage them. Coping with day-to-day life after treatment is often a difficult road for many who are newly sober. Inevitably, there will be setbacks and difficulties along the way. It is challenging to start over and meet the challenges and obligations of life without the assistance of drugs or alcohol. Let Relevance Recovery help you start your journey. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment and relapse prevention programs.