In many cases prescription drug addiction begins innocently enough. An accident, injury, or surgery requires that the person take pain medication. Maybe some life events have caused insomnia – you just want a good night’s sleep. The problem begins when the person continues to take the prescription drug for an extended period of time, and when the dosage must be increased to get the same effect. Thus begins a cycle of pain and addiction that can be impossible to overcome on your own.
What many people do not know is that pain killers, anxiolytics, and sleeping pills can have a backlash effect. They can, essentially, amplify the problem they were originally intended to help. As the body becomes conditioned to the foreign substance, normal brain and nervous system processes break down. Your body begins to lose its natural ability to fight pain or allow sleep.
Chronic pain is another issue that can lead to prescription drug addiction. Often the pain killer becomes the sole source of relief, and as the addiction, the abuser becomes less inclined to take other steps to relieve pain. It’s easier to just take a few more pain pills. Pain management is critical in cases such as this, because without proper physical therapy, or if you giveup on exercise, biofeedback, acupuncture, and other non-medicinal options, you become even more dependent on the pain pills and that’s when tolerance builds. The vicious cycle is set in motion.
Prescription drug abuse has become a particularly troubling issue among the elderly. They are often taking multiple medications for various health problems. The juggling of pills can become risky in and of itself. Did I remember to take my sleeping pill? I can’t remember, so I’ll take one now. The elderly may also become forgetful and take powerful medications in higher doses than intended.
As a person becomes addicted to prescription drugs, the biggest issue for them is supply. One doctor will rarely be enough to meet their growing tolerance for the medication. This is when many people resort to what is known as “doctor shopping.” They will go from one doctor to another complaining about pain, anxiety, insomnia, and muscle tension. Each doctor writes a prescription. They now have acquired what could be a potentially deadly cocktail of drugs. Because opiates, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety pills all suppress the nervous system, the risk of taking multiple classes of these drugs is obvious. You suppress the nervous system too much, just one time, and you may stop breathing. In recent years we have heard a number of cases of celebrities who died due to these deadly cocktails of powerful prescription drugs.
As doctors have become more savvy about pill-seeking behavior, many prescription drug abusers have turned to illegal drugs to get their fix. Those addicted to OxyContin may find it extremely challenging to get a doctor to write repeated prescriptions. They might discover it’s easier to get heroin.
Prescription drug abuse has become the most likely causes of emergency room visits due to overdose – more than illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Part of the problem is that the myth persists that because they are by prescription, they are safe. Prescription pain killers can lead a person to an addiction just as disabling as any addiction to illegal drugs. The fact they are approved by the FDA for medical treatment, does not mean they can be used with impunity.
If you or someone you love has become dependent on prescription drugs, there are many drug rehabs now that specialize in detoxing and treating this addiction.