When someone is struggling with addiction, it does not necessarily mean that they are engaging in illegal drug use. The idea of an addict might initially evoke thoughts of a person hooked on heroin, cocaine or crystal meth. However, one can easily become addicted to legal prescription drugs as well, and these addictions are by no means free from danger or health risks.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in the United States, 52 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs for a non-medical purpose at some point in their lives, with 6.1 million people having done so in the past month. Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs can lead to serious health problems and potentially prove fatal. In fact, deaths resulting from an overdose on prescription drugs tripled in the United States between 2001 and 2011.
It may seem like taking prescription medications is more acceptable than using illegal drugs, but the reality is that both can have dire consequences. Addiction can affect people of any age, gender and walk of life, and being able to spot it before it gets worse is a critical step on the path to recovery.
What are the most abused prescription drugs?
In the United States, the abuse of prescription medications is considered to have reached epidemic levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although painkiller sales have reportedly quadrupled since 1999, the CDC details that Americans are not reporting a change in the amount of pain they have. Due to these drugs being overprescribed, more people are overdosing on them. In fact, each day in the U.S., 44 people die from taking too many prescription pain medications. It is worth noting that certain commonly prescribed pain drugs carry the highest risk of an overdose: among them Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone and Methadone, according to the CDC.
However, there are numerous other drugs that are widely known to be abused. These can include benzodiazepines, stimulant medications and central nervous system depressants. Although the addicted individual may have their own prescription for a particular medication, it is common to easily obtain medications from family or friends, with NIDA reporting that 54.2 percent of those who abuse these medications having acquired them this way. Whether it's getting pills for free from a friend, or a teenager stealing his or her parents' medication from the medicine cabinet, taking prescription drugs any way other than how they are intended is dangerous and carries potentially life-threatening consequences.
Help for prescription drug addiction
If you or someone you love are addicted to prescription medications, there is hope for healing. Recognizing the signs of a possible addiction is critical to being able to get help or to help someone else who may be struggling. There are certain risk factors that may indicate prescription drug abuse, including residing in a rural area, being able to get prescriptions from multiple pharmacies and the presence of a mental health condition or substance abuse.
Since addiction and mental health disorders frequently occur together, a drug addiction treatment approach that accounts for all factors and looks to treat the root cause can be highly effective. Founded in 1989 by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, the Fairwinds Treatment Center uses a dual diagnosis approach to uncover the psychological triggers of addiction and help resolve them through an individualized treatment plan. Using a combination of therapeutic counseling and clinical treatment, those struggling with addiction can experience a full and lasting recovery.