If you have found yourself struggling to cope without drugs, then you may be wondering where did drug addiction start? It is easy to fall into a cycle of drug abuse without even realising, particularly with prescription medication.
Most people assume that prescription medication is safe to take because a doctor prescribes it, but this is not always the case. In fact, prescription medication can be harmful and addictive when abused. The trouble is that most people are just not aware of what is classed as prescription drug abuse.
How Did You Become Addicted to Drugs?
If you were prescribed medication for a genuine medical condition, you may have presumed that this medication was completely safe to take. The reality is that strong medication is only available on prescription because it can be harmful when abused or when taken over an extended period.
Doctors will weigh up the pros and cons of prescribing certain medications and will only do so when they believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. For the most part, prescription medication should only be taken over a short period and it should always be taken exactly as directed by a medical professional.
Many assume that because they are prescribed a specific medication for a specific condition that it is perfectly fine to give any remaining tablets to a friend or family member who they believe is suffering from a similar problem; it is not. This is classed as prescription drug abuse and is dangerous.
So where did drug addiction start for you? Was it with a legitimate medical problem that required prescription medication? Or did you take medication that was prescribed for another person?
For most people, with any type of addiction experimentation is the first stage. At this point, the individual has some control over his or her use of the substance. He or she decides to take it and can also decide to stop taking it. However, with continued regular use of a chemical substance such as prescription medication, there is a risk that a tolerance will build up.
When the individual develops an increased tolerance to the effects of the medication that he or she is taking, he/she will begin to feel as if it is not working as effectively as it did before. This can lead to a temptation to increase the dosage or take the pills more often than advised to. This is also classed as prescription drug abuse and can quickly lead to a physical dependence and subsequent addiction.
The problem for many individuals is that they often do not realise there is a problem until they try to quit. In many instances, this will be when their doctor decides not to renew the prescription. At this point, the person may notice cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
What are the Consequences of a Prescription Drug Addiction?
Any type of addiction can have disastrous consequences for the individual and his or her family members. Those who develop an addiction to any type of medical substance will experience structural changes to the brain. These changes can result in an inability to think clearly or to make good judgements.
When this happens, the only thing that matters is the substance to which they are addicted. Many addicts will put their need for a particular substance above everything else, and this includes their loved ones.
The health of an individual addicted to any type of chemical substance will undoubtedly suffer. In the early days, the affected person may not notice any major problems, but damage will be happening under the surface. Moreover, as time goes by, more problems may begin to show. Both mental and physical health problems can be a consequence of addiction. Examples of health problems associated with substance abuse and addiction include:
- high blood pressure
- weight loss/gain
- heart disease
- lung damage
- liver disease
When it comes to prescription drug addiction, the individual might experience irritability and agitation when in need of his or her medication. When coming to the end of the prescription it is not uncommon for panic to set in and some will begin ‘doctor shopping’ in a bid to ensure that he or she has enough pills. Doctor shopping is the practice of visiting several doctors to get more than one prescription.
If this avenue closes, the addict may look elsewhere to source his or her medication, and the first stop is usually the internet. However, this practice is fraught with danger as many of the pills that are sold online are fake. Most people cannot tell by looking at a pill whether it is fake or not and could therefore be risking their lives taking something that contains harmful chemicals. Others will turn to street drugs, leaving themselves vulnerable to an even deadlier addiction.
How Addiction Affects Others
It must be said that the negative effects of addiction are rarely reserved for the individual. In most cases, those closest to the addict will also be negatively affected. People who are living with the person with the addiction will probably notice a substantial change in his or her behaviour.
When they realise that their loved one is struggling with addiction, they will probably start to panic about what can be done to ‘fix’ the problem. Bringing up the subject can be incredibly tough because nobody wants to admit their use of a specific substance is something they have no control over.
Family members and friends are usually the first to notice when things are not quite right. If they do raise the issue with the individual, they may be met with angry denials and a refusal to admit that anything is amiss.
Nevertheless, as time goes by, the problem is likely to get worse and they will soon realise that no amount of begging or pleading with their loved one will get the response they desire. They cannot force their loved one to accept help. All they can do is be there to support him or her and try to encourage the person to see the seriousness of the situation.
However, the stress of living with an addict is not the only problem facing family members. Many addicts will become poor providers and will spend their money funding the addiction. In the case of prescription drug addiction, money is required when the individual can no longer get their medication from their GP. They may start to purchase alternatives online or develop an addiction to street drugs.
As the illness progresses, the affected person could find that he or she is unable to work. Being under the influence of drugs or recovering from it can affect an individual’s ability to earn a living, plunging family members into financial difficulty.
Overcoming an Addiction to Drugs
If you have found yourself wondering where did drug addiction start and how did you end up in this situation, you will be glad to know that you do not have to continue living this way. Help is available, and even if you have never touched an illegal drug in your life, you can still access a programme of detox and rehabilitation. These programmes are effective for the treatment of various addictions, including a prescription drug addiction.
The first step is to break the physical addiction to the medication you are taking. This usually takes place with a programme of detoxification. A detox begins when you stop taking your medication; when your body ‘realises’ that it is not getting the usual dose, it will react by attempting to get back to normal. The natural response is to eliminate all remaining chemicals and as it does this, you will probably experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms.
The type of symptoms you experience and how severe these are will depend on the type of substance you have been abusing and how long for. If you have been abusing prescription medication along with other substances such as alcohol, you are more likely to suffer symptoms that are more severe.
Detox programmes tend to run for about seven to ten days. If you decide to detox in a supervised facility, you will be monitored at all times and any symptoms you experience can be eased with medication if appropriate. It is generally accepted that a supervised detox in a dedicated facility is the safest and most comfortable way to break the cycle of addiction.
Rehabilitation follows a detox and is either inpatient or outpatient based. With an inpatient programme, you will leave your everyday life and move to a special facility where you will live for a period of up to eight weeks with other recovering addicts. If your treatment needs are more complex due to a dual diagnosis or an addiction to more than one substance, your stay may be longer.
In an inpatient facility, you will spend most of each day in treatment for the addiction, and there will be no distractions and no temptations from the outside world to interfere with your progress. You will also have access to a team of fully trained professional counsellors, doctors, and support staff at all times.
An outpatient programme is less intensive but no less effective when it comes to tackling addiction. Nonetheless, those who choose this option must have a real desire to overcome their addiction as they will have to deal with their recovery alongside normal daily life.
If you are in need of help for any type of addiction, please contact us today. Liberty House Clinic is dedicated to helping patients overcome their addictions in safe and comfortable surroundings. We are staffed by a team of passionate individuals who work tirelessly to ensure that all patients have every opportunity for long-term success.
Please call today for more information about what we do and the programmes we provide.