The problem of prescription drug abuse in the United States is often described as an epidemic. While that choice of words may seem like an exaggeration, it’s actually quite accurate: Research by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) states that up to 20 percent of American adults have engaged in prescription drug abuse at some point.
It is important to seek treatment for pharmaceutical abuse before serious health complications occur. Call Drug Treatment Centers Enfield at (860) 207-8338 for more recovery information.
An addiction to a prescription drug doesn’t form overnight: It’s a gradual process that often begins with experimentation. In a typical case of prescription drug abuse, a person may begin taking a medication as prescribed. Over time, they may take higher doses or begin taking the drug for non-medical purposes. A physical dependency on the substance grows until the person is taking the drug primarily to feed their addiction.
People who need to take a prescription drug for a long period of time may worry about the risk of addiction; however, not everyone who relies on a prescription medication for a medical reason will form an addiction. It’s difficult to predict the exact percentage of individuals who will become addicted to a prescription drug: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that the number could range from 3 percent to 40 percent. Taking the drug exactly as prescribed and working closely with a physician can lower the risk of problems.
Certain prescription drugs are notorious for their highly addictive nature.
Opiate painkillers, including Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet and Darvocet, are some of the most widely-abused prescription drugs. In addition to inhibiting the part of the brain that controls pain, these drugs produce feelings of euphoria in users. These drugs carry the risk of overdose for abusers, and they can lead to heart failure and other serious health problems when misused for a long period of time.
Benzodiazepines are another group of drugs with a strong potential for abuse. These medications are prescribed to treat panic attacks, anxiety disorders and epileptic seizures: Valium, Klonopin, Ativan and Xanax are some of the most commonly-prescribed benzodiazepines.
Prescription drugs that are typically prescribed to treat ADHD are sometimes misused by people who need to stay awake for long periods of time or improve their mental focus. These drugs include Ritalin, Adderall and other stimulants.
Prescription drug abuse can cause a strong addiction with a high rate of relapse, but a comprehensive treatment plan can improve the odds of long-term recovery. A customized treatment strategy for a patient will depend on the drug of abuse, the severity of the addiction and the patient’s individual needs.
Medical detoxification is the first step of the treatment process; in many cases of prescription drug addiction, a medically-managed approach to detox is recommended. During detox, the abused drug is tapered off gradually, and medications are available to ease cravings for the drug and manage the symptoms of withdrawal. A few medications have been approved for the management of opiate withdrawal, including naltrexone, methadone and buprenorphine.
Drug addiction rehabilitation begins when a patient has successfully withdrawn from a drug. Most patients will receive some form of psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in rehab; they are also likely to remain on treatment medication during this phase. Therapy sessions help recovering individuals understand the insidious nature of addiction and identify any emotional issues that may have been a factor in their drug abuse.
In CBT sessions, patients learn how to replace negative thought patterns with constructive ones, and they develop coping strategies to handle their cravings for drugs. Once a patient leaves the treatment center, aftercare services such as support groups and ongoing therapy can reduce the risk of relapse.
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