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.