Addiction can make someone feel helpless and alone, but this doesn’t have to be the case. If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to prescription drugs, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Contact Northbound today for help getting the addiction treatment you need.
In our society, prescription drug abuse is seen all over the place. We’ve all heard about the illegal substances. They’re out on the streets. They’re notorious. We’ve heard horror stories about heroin and cocaine ruining lives and bringing people to their knees. Meth and crack, you’ve read about them in local newspapers. You’ve seen Hollywood’s version of the destruction these drugs can cause time and again. You know that lives are lost, tragedies happen. You swear you’ll never touch anything so lethal. Only junkies get hooked on drugs, right? You’re smarter than that. But what about the drugs that are hidden away in the family medicine cabinet? They’re easy to get. Easy to take. They seem safe. They work great. And if a medical professional is prescribing them, they can’t be all that bad, right? For some, they’re a medical necessity. But maybe they’ve become something else in your world. Maybe it began innocently, but now they’ve become part of your everyday routine. Maybe you’re no longer taking them as prescribed. And maybe you don’t know how to stop.
Prescription drugs are the third most popular choice among people who suffer from substance abuse and addiction, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Alcohol and marijuana claim the top spots. But prescription drugs have their own appeal. Doctors prescribe them, so what’s the harm? It’s sneaky, but it’s there. The harm comes from the very real physical and mental health damage these drugs can cause. Long before you know that anything is wrong.
At Northbound, we understand. We know you wish you could stop. We know you’re scared and exhausted by feeling out of control and we want to help you recover. We can help you get through the physical drug detox that comes along with an addiction to prescription drugs. From there, we can walk beside you as you rediscover life free from pills. During your time with us, you’ll be challenged, encouraged, and supported while moving beyond the confines of traditional treatment. We can help you transition seamlessly into a new, better, sober life.
What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?
When something hurts, you go to the doctor. Simple, right? Doctors prescribe medication to help with medical problems, ease painful conditions, and address emotional issues. But for some, taking medication doesn’t stop there.
Sometimes it starts as one innocent pill taken to stop legitimate discomfort. It works quickly. The pain is gone. And it feels good, better than it should maybe. If one pill seems good, then more might be better. And it’s not just the pain that’s easier to handle. Life seems easier too. You start to feel like you can handle anything. After a while, emotional pain and mental health issues don’t seem to get in your way either. Pills become a way to fix more than just an ache. They fix your life, they fix your head.
But this false belief is dangerous because what started as a harmless escape can turn into a dark nightmare and quickly spiral out of control.
Then there’s the recreational user. About 20% of individuals 12 and older have used a prescription drug for a recreational purpose at least once during their lifespan, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Pills are popped in excess of what the doctor prescribed, and often for reasons that have nothing to do with illness or pain relief. It’s a celebration. A party. A way to cut loose. What they’re looking for is euphoria. A kick of energy. Or an escape from reality. It starts off as being fun, but its abuse. Anytime a pill is taken not as prescribed, its abuse. Partying with pills is dangerous, and the reality is that it can and does lead to addiction.
Some of the most commonly abused types of prescription drugs include:
- Painkillers (OxyContin and Vicodin)
- Sedatives, (Valium and Xanax)
- Stimulants, (Ritalin and Adderall)
- Addiction treatment therapy drugs (Methadone)
Individuals who abuse and develop addictions to these drugs are typically young. Addiction rates are highest in people ages 18 to 25, meaning it’s often disrupting the lives of young adults before they’ve had a chance to properly settle into adulthood. Drugs become more important than important the life-changing decisions they’re facing.
At Northbound, we specialize in helping young adults heal, develop their identity, and establish a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We understand the unique issues that they face and we know how to guide our patients through them. There is recovery from pill addiction. We can help.
Dangers of Abusing Prescription Drugs
Many people with illnesses take prescription drugs as their doctor prescribes them. Their doctor dictates the dosage and frequency of admission. The plan is for the patient to get better. The medications are part of the healing and do not pose a problem. But all rules are broken when it comes to addiction. Dosage and frequency are no longer set by a doctor, they are dictated by an addict’s cravings. When the brain says it needs more, it’s a difficult call to ignore.
That’s why abusing drugs can lead to all sorts of health problems, says the National Council on Patient Information. People who abuse these drugs can develop:
- Increased heart rate
- Organ damage
- Breathing difficulties
- Blood pressure increases
In 2009, there were about 4.6 million emergency room visits attributed to drugs, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. About 27 percent of those visits were caused by the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals. It’s a statistic that shatters any illusion about the safety of prescribed pills.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Include:
- Narcotic Syrups
Where Prescription Drugs Come From
In the beginning, before an addiction has formed, the pills usually come from a doctor’s prescription pad. For a while, it’s easy enough to get the doctor to approve refills. So you continue to ask. But eventually, doctors and family members get suspicious. You may find you’re doctor shopping as you look for new reasons to see different doctors. You memorize exactly which problems will get you your drug of choice.
But some people run out of ways to get legitimate prescriptions. That’s when the addict starts taking desperate actions. Writing fake prescriptions themselves, stealing from friends’ medicine cabinets, or buying them on the streets from drug dealers. Maybe prescription drugs aren’t easily available or aren’t enough anymore. As the addiction begins to spiral other substances often enter the picture. The threat of legal trouble is ignored as the addict begins to feel above the law. Drug-seeking has become more important than safety.
Beyond the threat of legal trouble, there are other immediate dangers of buying pills on the street. Someone hoping to buy Vicodin from a dealer could end up with something else altogether. Taking an unregulated substance could cause an overdose. Or introduce a brand new substance. The mystery behind every purchase is terrifying.
By the end of their use, many addicts have run into a long list of troubles. Desperate to feed their addiction, they have committed crimes and hurt those they love. They’ve compromised their morals and maybe lived a double life. All in the name of staying high. They may have convinced themselves that they are just trying to treat their own illness – ease the pain, alleviate the symptoms. They may be in denial. Other times the destruction is so bold, the denial begins to dissolve as desperate realities set in. Maybe the police are involved. Maybe they’ve stolen from friends and family. They don’t recognize themselves. All has been lost while feeding cravings and obsessively seeking pills. Until one day an addict looks in the mirror and asks, “how did I get here?”
When to Get Treatment for Addiction to Prescription Drugs
It’s hard to stop and ask yourself if you’ve become addicted. Maybe you haven’t gotten in trouble with the law. Maybe your friends and family don’t seem to have a clue that you’re taking a few extra pills. Everything might still look great on the outside. Your impressive job or good grades are proof that you’re functioning. On the surface, everything looks fine. But is it really? Realizing that you have an addiction is hard. What if you have a legitimate prescription? Should you stop taking it? When is it really an addiction? And when is it a problem?
A doctor can help answer these questions. They know what tests to run. What questions to ask. What to look for. If you aren’t sure if your usage is a problem, ask a medical professional. But if you’re afraid to bring it to a doctor’s attention, you may already have your answer.
Some people know the truth deep down. There is a voice telling them that they have an addiction. It tells them that the dosage or frequency of pill popping isn’t right. It isn’t safe. If they try to see through the denial, they can admit that they are scared of where their habits are taking them. That the way they’re taking prescription drugs isn’t quite right. It’s dangerous. According to the Mayo Clinic addicts might have outward signs that include:
- Forging prescriptions
- Excessive mood swings
- An increased need for sleep
- Seeming energetic or revved up
Even if this sounds familiar, you might not want to talk about addiction. You might not want to look at how pills have hijacked your life. Denial seems easier. But the problem with denial is that it can cause small problems to grow into big ones. And bad problems can get worse. You lose track of who you really are when refusing to see your own truth. Growth is stunted. Relationships are ruined. Self-esteem crumbles. Recovery can only begin by asking for help.
How to Get Better
Addiction is progressive. If left alone, it almost always gets worse. As you continue to take more and more drugs, the brain adjusts to the higher dosage. So you take more. And the brain adjusts again, even if you’re damaging your body with how much you’re taking. You chase the effect that you used to get from just one pill to the very bottom of the bottle. But still, that initial euphoria eludes you. You may not be aware of it, but your brain chemistry has been altered. Your reward center no longer functions properly. Every use of the drugs further hijacks the brain and makes it harder and harder to just feel happy. Just feel normal. But cutting back is becoming too uncomfortable to deal with.
Getting the quantities needed to satisfy a growing tolerance can lead to desperate measures. A U.S. National Library of Medicine article suggests an addiction to prescription painkillers can lead to heroin use. At some point, a pill addict may have exhausted any reputable doctors. Drug dealers have become the most convenient way to get the pill they want. The addiction is out of control, and if they can’t get enough to function, a painful and dangerous withdrawal begins. One time, the dealer might not have the pill the addict is craving. So there’s a promise that a little heroin will make the pain stop. All the addict can think about is relief from the withdrawal. And even those who once said “I’ll never try hard drugs” find themselves trying heroin. They don’t see another solution. At that moment, the promise of immediate relief is good enough.
Stopping the addiction cycle is difficult. But it’s possible. And it’s something nobody has to do alone. At Northbound’s prescription drug addiction rehab program in Orange County, we have a full continuum of care to help you get started on your path to recovery. At our residential detox, “oneEIGHTY,” we focus on the immediate physical effects of cutting off prescription pills and any additional substances that the addiction may be introduced to your life. Withdrawal is worse than uncomfortable. In fact, for drugs like Xanax and Klonopin, detoxing without medical care can be lethal. Electrical firestorms break out in the brain. Hallucinations, seizures, and other health problems can occur. At oneEIGHTY, we are well aware of the risks involved and provide around-the-clock medical care. We help you through the worst of it. We prepare meals for you. There are professionals to counsel you. And others going through the detox process by your side. You are in a residential environment with people just like you. You are welcomed into a community. You are always supported.
After detox, the drug may be out of the system, but there’s a lot more work to do. Our clients often continue on our extended continuum of care, from detox to residential to intensive outpatient to support. Our goal is to allow clients to gradually build a new lifestyle, develop new habits, enhance their character and redefine their identity. You have lived with the assistance of pills for a long time. It’s going to take some work to figure out life without them and survive drug-free. Because sobriety isn’t enough. We aim to walk with clients as they learn to truly thrive in life and in recovery. They are encouraged to experience the joys and struggles that life has to offer, knowing that we are here to walk with them as they learn, grow, and solidify their recovery. We call this In-Vivo treatment. Real recovery. In real life.
Get Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at Northbound
To find out more about the Northbound experience, call us. We have intake professionals available to answer your questions and support you. We hope to hear from you very soon.