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Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 18 million individuals misused prescription medication in 2017. Thousands of Americans as young as 12 have fallen victim to prescription drug addiction. An addiction such as this can be deadly. 

The United States of America has a prescription drug overdose crisis (opioids, painkillers, and benzos especially). Only an addiction recovery facility can ensure permanent sobriety and solace.

Beginning, prescription drug addiction is often overlooked. Many cases slide under the radar as a doctor prescribes them a higher dose and does it continuously. This makes this form of substance abuse disorder trickier than the rest. Not every medication is addictive; however, some are because of the pleasant effects. 

While obvious effects like pain reduction are a given, euphoria is not. A medication once used to help reduce anxiety becomes a crutch and lifestyle. Certain medications can put people at a higher risk of developing an addiction: 

  • Codeine 
  • Morphine 
  • Methadone 
  • Barbiturates 
  • Dextromethorphan 
  • Sleep medications 
  • Fentanyl and analogs 
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin) 
  • Amphetamines (ie: Adderall) 
  • Benzodiazepines (ie: Xanax, Valium)
  • Opioid painkillers (ie: oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, meperidine) 

Medication has its time and place. Adderall can help people with ADHD live normal lives. Benzodiazepines may help someone who’s anxiety has ruined their life. Painkillers can alleviate chronic pain in an instant that a person has dealt with for a decade. 

As a whole, medication isn’t evil or immediately addictive. What’s important is that it doesn’t take over someone’s life. Additionally, no one should ever take these medications unless prescribed by a doctor.

Common Types of Prescription Drug Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of a Prescription Drug Addiction

While prescription drug addiction is deadly, symptoms may be hard to catch. This is because a prescription bottle is innocent. Crack pipes and needles are an obvious sign of addiction. A legal prescription isn’t so. Anyone who regularly uses medications can slip into a prescription drug addiction without even noticing. 


Symptoms and signs evolve as a person actively is on drugs and when they are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Each can be discreet if an individual doesn’t know what to look for. Catching a prescription drug addiction early on can expedite recovery and save lives. 


Here are common signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction: 


  • Irregular sleep patterns 
  • Erratic actions or behavior 
  • Unwarranted bodily aches and pains 
  • An uncontrollable and random urge to itch 
  • Development of mental health disorders 
  • Stealing prescription drugs from a loved one 
  • Using a prescription drug after treatment is complete 
  • Asking a doctor to up the dosage for no viable reason
  • Trying to buy prescription drugs off of friends and family 
  • Seeking prescription drugs from a doctor for a hazy reason 


Further, these symptoms and signs can fall into stages. To expand, an addiction usually doesn’t develop overnight. It happens over a period of time starting with illicit use. Individuals want to continue the high of prescription drugs. They might not have even used it illegally at this point. 


So, it could start as taking more than prescribed. Then, they will get prescribed more by a doctor when they ask. A person with a budding prescription drug addiction may say the dose isn’t strong enough. 


The cycle begins there. From the beginning stage, they creep down the spectrum to addiction. Now, they aren’t just craving these drugs; they need them. Their body becomes addicted to the chemicals the prescriptions induce. As a result, their body experiences withdrawal.

Who Is At Risk for a Prescription Drug Addiction?

Most people don’t realize they are one bad circumstance away from drug addiction. There is an obvious stigma against individuals with a substance use disorder. Though, even dear old Nana could have a drug addiction unknown to her grandchildren (or herself). 


In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that requests for opioids from people 55 and older went up by 54% between 2013 and 2015. This is the case even though the population of this age group only went up by around 6%. 


Furthermore, those at risk for prescription drug addiction are somewhat different than other kinds of substance use disorders. A doctor prescribes the medication, so they think their dependence is okay. An individual with a prescription addiction will make up reasons to justify their misuse. 


People under these conditions are at risk to develop a prescription drug addiction: 


  • Individuals with chronic pain
  • Victims of domestic and/or child abuse
  • People who recently underwent surgery
  • Young adults (especially those in college)
  • Those suffering from a mental health disorder
  • Those who have a genetic predisposition to addiction
  • People without health insurance or access to medical help

Moreover, an individual without health insurance may attempt to self-medicate. They might seek out a friend or family member that has access to prescription drugs with no intention of misuse. In an attempt to reduce chronic pain or a mental illness, they become addicted to these prescription drugs. The more they use, the more their body builds up a tolerance to it.

Then, they need more of it to feel any relief at all. This is a vicious cycle because the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable when they try to stop. On the other hand, the same could happen for someone who has been on prescription medication for a while. Addiction isn’t up to someone.

What Does Treatment/Detox Look Like for Prescription Drug Addiction?

To begin, treatment for prescription drug addiction is intense. The symptoms and signs mentioned before are common ones. However, withdrawal from these types of substances is brutal. Some may experience seizures, delirium, hallucinations, spasms, and hypersensitivity to light. Mild symptoms on their own are enough to push back recovery. 

Unlike some other substances, prescription drug addiction recovery needs help from a medical professional. Only the trained staff at a treatment center understands how to help a patient detox minus insufferable symptoms. It also helps to be surrounded by a community of individuals striving toward the same goal. The following programs for prescription drug recovery can jumpstart the healing process. 

Medication-Assisted Therapy for Prescription Drug Addiction Detox

To start, we try to rehabilitate patients without medication. We’ve found that talk and holistic therapies can be more powerful than medication. This is because systems and support stick when medication doesn’t. 

That said, there are various medications individuals with a prescription drug addiction might need to be on. Some drugs like Naloxone and Vivitrol rebalance the body’s chemistry and take the high away from prescription drugs. This is considered a detox. It’s especially useful for extremely severe cases.

Talk Therapy for Prescription Drug Addiction 

Firstly, talk therapy provides effective treatment for those who struggle with a prescription drug addiction. Some of the most popular forms of talk therapy include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Each helps patients discover and fix maladaptive behaviors in their own way. 

DBT is a form of CBT but is different enough to have its own distinction. For example, DBT helps the recovery process through validation and recognition of interpersonal feelings. On the other hand, CBT is putting systems in place to stop a pattern of thinking and behavior. One might be better than another depending on what an individual with a substance abuse disorder is dealing with.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) for Prescription Drug Addiction

Secondly, a wide range of those with prescription drug addiction deals with trauma. If that’s the case, EMDR might be a suitable form of treatment. What makes this psychotherapy different from others is that it uses external stimuli. Patients will revisit moments of trauma and perform an action, like hand tapping, when they do so. 

The theory behind this practice is that information about the traumatic memory is processed differently. This makes a patient subconsciously more open to the therapy. Both trauma and addiction can resolve in this way. 

Residential Treatment: Substance Abuse Inpatient Programs for Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is extremely serious and often deadly. People can overdose very easily on them, which is unlike drugs like hallucinogens and marijuana. Hence, an individual with a substance use disorder may need an immersive experience. 

Residential treatment allows recovering addicts to work on healing 24/7. They are removed from any external situation that may trigger cravings. Medical staff is there around the clock to help as well.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) for Prescription Drug Addiction

A PHP is similar to residential treatment, except a patient doesn’t need to be there around the clock. Instead, they may be there for half a day every single day. The sessions will be long, but they can leave and go home at the end of the day. 

This works for recovering individuals who have obligations. Perhaps they have a job, take care of parents, or care for children. It’s also appropriate for those who have completed inpatient treatment and still need additional support.

Outpatient Programs for Prescription Substance Abuse Recovery

To continue, outpatient treatment for prescription drug addiction is the mildest form of recovery. Parts of more intense treatment are incorporated into less time throughout the week. Some portions may include psychotherapy sessions and exercise therapy. 

Every person has a unique lifestyle. Yet, this type of treatment is really for those with a mild addiction. Additionally, it could be for people that have already gone through a more intense form of treatment. Otherwise, this form of therapy may not be effective.

Concise Recovery provides prescription drug addiction treatment in Southern California. We offer personalized programs to suit every person’s needs. The only thing each patient requires is the desire to overcome addiction. We take care of everything else. Contact us now to overcome a substance addiction.