When suffering from a medical health problem such as severe pain or a chronic illness, it is natural to visit a doctor for a remedy that can provide relief. While over-the-counter medications are available to help relieve pain, there are certain instances where they may not be effective.
For severe pain, stronger painkillers are usually necessary, but these medications are only available on prescription due to the various risks they have. Prescription medications tend to carry the potential for abuse due to their sedative effects, but most people do not fully understand what constitutes abuse. They also fail to appreciate the dangers of not using prescription medication exactly as prescribed.
Going on from this, it is difficult for many to also understand how prescription drug abuse affects families. Most do not realise that abuse of these drugs can quickly lead to physical dependence, swiftly followed by a crippling addiction. There is a common misunderstanding surrounding prescription drug use where most people assume them to be completely safe because they are legal and prescribed by doctors.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Before even beginning to contemplate how prescription drug abuse affects families, it is important to understand what prescription drug abuse actually is.
When doctors prescribe medication for a patient, they are doing so based on that individual and his or her specific circumstances. Doctors must take many factors into consideration including the person’s weight and age and whether he or she has any underlying medical conditions that could interact with medication prescribed. Doctors have to also consider any medication that the person is taking, again checking for potential interactions.
It is important that the medication being considered is safe for the individual to take and that the benefits outweigh the risks. Unfortunately, most people never consider these issues when it comes to the prescription medication that they are taking.
It is not uncommon for some to increase their dose of medication if they believe that it is not as effective as it used to be. This tends to happen with prescription drugs; after a while, you will get used to it and your brain will respond differently when you take it. You may find that you need more of it to achieve the level of relief or satisfaction that you desire. This is known as increased tolerance. However, what most individuals do not realise is that taking more of the medication without the advice of a doctor is classed as abuse.
Another form of prescription drug abuse is taking medication that was prescribed for another person. This is also something that occurs regularly and again, most do not appreciate the dangers associated with doing so. Many assume that just because a drug has been effective for treating their pain, it will be effective when it comes to treating a family member or friend’s similar pain too.
Do You Have a Prescription Drug Addiction?
It is often difficult to tell when prescription drug use has crossed a line and has progressed to prescription drug abuse. Most people do not realise that they have a problem until someone they love points it out to them.
Those who develop a problem with their medication often do not see how prescription drug abuse affects families, or even themselves, until the later stages of the illness. This is because their mind is clouded by the drug being taken and so they are unable to think logically or make good decisions.
It is important to look closely at your own prescription drug use to determine if you might have a problem. If your loved ones have suggested that your use of a particular medication is becoming a problem, then it is even more important that you take action.
Think about how you are using your prescription medication for starters – do you need higher doses to achieve pain relief or a certain level of satisfaction? Have you begun taking more of the medication without consulting a doctor? If so, you could have a problem.
If your use of prescription medication has been affecting your day-to-day life then you may already have an addiction, especially if you find it difficult to function normally without it. If you continue to take the medication even though it is having a negative impact on your life or the lives of others, you almost certainly have an addiction to contend with.
The Impact of Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction
It is not difficult to see how prescription drug abuse can affect the life of the individual when you stop to look carefully at how it affects the ability to perform essential functions. It can be harder to see how prescription drug abuse affects families.
Nevertheless, think about your use of medication and whether it is hindering your ability to meet responsibilities or commitments. Furthermore, think about whether you have lost interest in spending time with those around you. This is a common consequence of drug abuse and addiction.
Once an addiction develops, it is common for it to become the most important thing in the user’s life. Preoccupation with the drug develops and takes over, leaving little time for anything else. If you have become addicted to your prescription medication, you may be unable to think of anything else. All that will matter will be the drug and how and when you are going to get your next dose.
We have ascertained that drug addiction has a deep and lasting impact on the user but know that it also has a negative impact on his or her family members as well. The change in a loved one because of a drug addiction can be very distressing to witness. When a family member begins to put his or her need for a chemical substance above loved ones, it can lead to the breakdown of relationships.
Family members often find it difficult to understand why their loved one continues to abuse drugs, especially when it is causing so much harm. To them the solution is simple – stop taking the drug. Nonetheless, it is not that easy; those affected by drug addiction have no choice over their use of the substance. They are compelled to use it, and even if they desperately want to stop, they are powerless to resist the urge.
Drug addiction within a family unit can potentially have disastrous consequences for all involved. Some family members will develop what is known as co-dependency. Co-dependency causes family members to become obsessed with the addict to the point where they will sacrifice their own happiness and wellbeing in favour of taking care of the addict.
Children can also be deeply affected, particularly when the addicted family member is a parent. Many suffer emotional distress and neglect because of the addiction, and it can have an impact on their ability to form healthy relationships in later life. Some will become isolated and withdrawn in school and will avoid forming friendships for fear that others will find out about their addicted parent.
Getting Help for Addiction
A prescription drug addiction is a serious mental health problem and as such requires treatment. Accepting that the problem exists is often the hardest part of the recovery journey, but once you are ready to do this, you can get the help you need to rebuild your life and make amends for any harm that you have caused to family members.
If you would like more information on how prescription drug abuse affects families and how you can access the help you need to get better, please contact us here at Liberty House Clinic. We can answer your questions and provide information on our treatment programmes. Call today to speak to one of our advisors.