Often, when people are to think of a drug addiction, they would stereotypically associate this with illegal drugs such as heroin, cannabis or ketamine, when, in reality, prescription drug addictions are on the rise also. Many of these individuals often underestimate the severity of a prescription drug addiction; however, this type of addiction can be just as devastating and harmful as any other drug addiction.

Some prescription medications can have psychoactive effects, which is often why they end up being abused. Nevertheless, initially, many think that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are ‘safer’ than illegal substances, but these drugs can be just as hazardous and addictive. In the rest of this blog post, we will discuss the various types of prescription drug and how these can affect the individual.

Types of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are three classes of prescription drugs that are commonly abused, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. If continually abused, these can lead to a prescription drug addiction.

  • Central nervous system depressants (CNS) – including benzodiazepines like diazepam, also known as Valium, and alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax – are often prescribed to treat panic attacks, anxiety and stress. Benzodiazepines such as estazolam and triazolam, which are known for being sedative-like drugs, can be used to treat a number of sleep disorders as they have the ability to slow brain activity.
  • Stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate and amphetamines are primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These particular drugs have a calming effect, which is one of the reasons they are regularly abused.
  • Opioids are narcotic medications that are used to relieve pain including injury-related or dental pain. Oxycodone, morphine and codeine are all examples of opioids. These are often abused as they can give the individual a numb-like feeling (which is why they are intended for pain relief).

It is thought that most prescription drug addictions begin when the person in question discovers the ‘high’ feeling that is produced by these drugs. Prescription drugs ‘work’ in the same way that illegal substances do, by releasing chemicals in the brain and consequently creating a euphoric feeling. This gives the individual a ‘buzz’ and makes the affected individual want to keep abusing the substance.

The ‘Only Escape’

For many, abusing prescription drugs may feel like an only escape from the troubles of everyday life. This is apparently the case for many of those affected by the flooding last winter in the towns and villages of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. Thousands of residents were forced to leave their homes as a result of the sixteen inches of rainwater that engulfed these towns in just forty-eight hours. Even now, almost a year on, a shocking 997 out of the original 5,300 families who were forced from their homes are still homeless.

Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service has now said that the number of these residents turning to alcohol and prescription drugs is increasing rapidly after their world was turned upside down as a result of this extreme flooding.

Manager of Carlisle’s Spencer Street Flood Recovery Centre, Paul Hendy, has commented on the situation, saying, “When an incident like that happens, it’s a trauma – an unexpected event that has a pretty nasty impact on people’s lives. People will already have had other things going on in their lives and for some this will have been the final straw. It’s just too much.”

This is a very upsetting but true statement as many will feel that they are stuck in a vicious cycle of negativity from which they cannot escape. Many individuals feel as though the only way they can ‘escape’ from this reality is to turn to self-medication, and so begins a downward spiral into a prescription drug addiction.

Treatment for a Prescription Drug Addiction

An addiction to any drug, whether it is prescribed or illegal, is an illness of the brain that can be effectively treated. Treatments vary but no single treatment will work for every person. Treatment options vary depending on the individual’s needs as well as the type of drug being taken.

For example, an opioid addiction can be treated with medication. Pharmacological treatments such as these can counteract the effects of the harmful drug, relieve withdrawal symptoms, assist in overcoming cravings for the drug, and possibly treat an overdose.

For a treatment to be successful, it may need to incorporate a few different therapies, including counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy. Depending on whether an affected individual chooses inpatient or outpatient treatment, he or she will need at least 6-8 weeks of treatment to be on the way to recovery.

Contrary to popular belief, prescription drug addictions are just as harmful and hazardous as an addiction to any other drug. On top of this, these drugs are easier to obtain as well, making it harder to tackle these addictions. If you think that yourself or a friend/family member may be suffering from a prescription drug addiction, contact us here at Liberty House for advice and information on possible treatments.

Source:  Stressed parents ‘turning to prescription drugs and alcohol after flood chaos’ (The Express)