It’s true, there are many illicit and illegal drugs being used throughout the U.S. today. However, there’s also a major presence of prescription drug addiction abuse. Many people believe that because these drugs come from a doctor, they’re safe, but they have the potential to be extremely harmful and addictive when abused and taken improperly.
At New Life House, we help young men that have stumbled into a prescription drug addiction become aware of their abuse. We give them steps towards recovery so they can live a life without dependency on their prescription. Learn more about our center in California by setting up your first appointment with us today.
How are Prescription Drugs Meant to be Consumed?
Prescription medications are, for the most part, healthy and helpful when prescribed by an experienced and knowledgeable doctor and taken according to the instructions given. They’re meant to be consumed in a way that is beneficial to the body. A safe prescription medication routine may include:
- An updated and accurate list of medications that’s approved by your doctor to take concurrently
- Annual review of medications
- Careful following of medication labels
- Asking the doctor or pharmacist questions if you have any
- Keeping prescription medication to yourself and not sharing
- Storing the medication in a safe and secure place
- Faithfulness to the medication instructions unless otherwise instructed by your prescribing doctor
Now, all of these points may be followed but that doesn’t ensure that someone is being safe about using their prescription drug. If someone has recently gone through addiction recovery and is living in sobriety, prescription drugs (especially prescription painkillers) can be just as addictive. Why is this?
While many people believe the notion that any medication that comes from a doctor is okay, that’s just not so. Even the most innocent-seeming painkillers are still a part of the class of drugs called Opioids. These drugs, while chemically similar to heroin, opium, and morphine, are often even preferred over their street counterparts. Because of this, it’s a good idea to stay away from these types of medications while in recovery.
While people coming out of surgery or recovering from an intense accident may greatly benefit from the use of narcotic painkillers, they also haven’t been familiarized with the euphoric pain-relieving aspects of the drugs beforehand.
Former addicts, on the other hand, have a history with that drug-induced feeling. So, even when they are in situations where otherwise painkillers may be a good idea, it can bring back familiar effects that trigger craving and eventual abuse.
When Former Addicts Must Take Them
Sometimes in life, there’s just no way to avoid these powerful medications. If someone who is sober or a recovered addict lands in an accident or suffers from an injury that requires prescription painkillers, prescriptions must be administered in a controled way.
It’s important that the individual’s sponsor, support group, friends and family are aware any abuse so they can better identify triggers and help keep them accountable. With proper support and medical supervision, former addicts can still take prescription painkillers safely when absolutely necessary. We have experience working with painkiller addicts. We know how to transition them from abuse to recovery. Call us today to learn more about our program.
How Do People Get Ahold of Them Without a Prescription?
If prescription drugs are only given to the person who the medication is prescribed to, then how do people abuse them or take them illegally? This is a common question that many don’t understand in the larger scope of the prescription drug abuse epidemic facing our country today.
Unfortunately, there are gaps in our healthcare system that allow these drugs to be prescribed irresponsibly by doctors, given to those who don’t really need them, and passed out on the streets to be distributed further.
Some of the most common ways to obtain prescription drugs illegally include:
- Lying about a condition
- Seeing an irresponsible or inexperienced doctor
- Stealing from others
- Abusing a family member’s medication
- “Borrowing” or sharing someone else’s prescription
- Resale on the black market
If you believe your loved one has gained access to a prescription medication in any of these ways, seek help for them as soon as possible. Contact us at New Life House today.
Dangers of the Medicine Cabinet
Besides cannabis, prescription drugs are the highest abused substance by teenagers. Why is this so? It shouldn’t be surprising, but many of these drugs are easy to get in their family’s drug cabinet.
Some of the most common dangerous prescription drugs that can be found in a medicine cabinet include:
- Painkillers – This is the most commonly abused “household drug”. This includes painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, which are dangerous and highly addictive.
- Benzodiazepines – This group includes drugs such as Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax, which are commonly prescribed to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. When combined with alcohol, these can be some of the most dangerous drugs to find around the house.
- Stimulants – Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, used primarily to treat ADHD and ADD, have similar effects as cocaine and methamphetamine when taken improperly.
- Antidepressants – These drugs (ones like Lexapro, Prozac, and Paxil) seem to be laying around everywhere nowadays, as they’re prescribed for a variety of things from muscle pain to weight loss.
When teens get ahold of prescription medications in their own home, they don’t seem to think it carries the same weight as engaging in other illicit or illegal drugs. Some of the rationalizations and justifications they commonly use include:
- “But… you use them.”
- “It’s not like it’s something hard like Meth or Heroin.”
- “It was only one!”
- “But they’re legal.”
- “They’re from a doctor, they can’t be bad.”
While some of these may hold bits of validity, they do not cancel out the dangers of taking prescription drugs improperly and illegally. Minors must be aware of the dangers of all drugs, whether found on the streets or in the home.
When teens take these pills, they often do it in combinations or in large amounts all at once in order to get a heightened or compounded effect. This can be extremely dangerous, as mixing medications or taking them in incorrect quantities can have deadly consequences.
Beyond these physical consequences, there are also legal implications when underage teenagers abuse prescription medications. Over 10% of drug arrests come from teenagers under 18, but parents have also been known to be charged with negligence in such cases when overdose or death occurs.
If your teenager is abusing prescription drugs, there’s no time to waste. Contact us today for immediate intervention and to begin their recovery process.
How and Why Teens Abuse Prescription Drugs
According to a study by Purdue University, young adults are influenced to abuse drugs due to more subtle peer context than what is typically referred to as “peer pressure.” Rather than this, they’re persuaded by peer drug associations, the motivation to use drugs for a good time with friends, and they use peers as a way to access these drugs.
Formerly, prevention strategy commonly assumed that peer pressure was causing young adults to make these decisions. Now, however, research shows that indirect social pressure in conjunction with the temptation to have a good time is what really plays the biggest role.
Basically, the data shows that if an individual associates drug use with better social benefits and lower social consequences:
- They are more likely to misuse medication more frequently
- Use alternative methods of administration (such as snorting or injecting)
- Display signs of dependence
It also shows that if someone knows several sources to obtain drugs within their peer group and they believe it will enhance their social behavior, they’re more likely to abuse.
If you or someone you love could be abusing prescription drugs, don’t hesitate to reach out for help to New Life House at (888) 357-7577.
How Serious Is Prescription Drug Abuse?
It might be easy to think that prescription drug abuse isn’t that big of a problem because it’s pretty hard to get ahold of these medications without a prescription, right? Wrong. This problem has gotten so out of hand that there’s been a coalition of stakeholders in the healthcare industry urging the government to push forward on a solid plan to stop prescription drug abuse since 2014.
The coalition, collectively called The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines, includes members like Pharmacy CVS and the AMA (American Medical Association). The Alliance wrote the Obama administration’s drug czar supporting his 2014 agenda for the policy, praising an approach that works through public health rather than incarceration to ensure appropriate access to necessary treatment.
While Boticelli’s policy focused on curbing heroin and prescription opioids with treatment over punishment, the Alliance believes there’s still much more to be done to expand the program and make further progress. We also believe that immediate recovery matters. Ending the cycle of addiction abuse starts with your first appointment at New Life House.
What Prescription Drugs Are Most Addictive?
By far, the most addictive prescription drugs available are benzodiazepines, opioids, and amphetamines. But just why do these three make the cut?
Benzos are a class of medications that have been used for decades to treat things like anxiety, sleep, and seizure disorders and are now used for PTSD, epilepsy, MS, and OCD. However, overdose and chemical dependency are still very real risks.
While they originally were created in order to serve as a safer alternative to barbiturates, they come with their own class of dangers. Some commonly prescribed benzos are Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Restoril, and Ativan.
The biggest danger with benzos lies in the exponentially compounded effect they can cause when mixed or combined with other substances, potentially leading to hospitalization or even death.
If you tune into the news, you’re probably aware of the opiate epidemic that’s taking place in our country right now. While many cases of opiate-based drug abuses do involve heroin, the illicit street narcotic, there is still a huge portion that arises from drugs prescribed right in the doctor’s office or hospital room.
Opiates are a drug class originally derived from the poppy plant in order to treat pain. While they’re used recreationally across the world, many of the opioid addictions here in the U.S. begin with medications prescribed by doctors.
There are numerous reasons that opiates can be helpful. Unfortunately, those predisposed to addictive traits are likely to develop problematic relationships with these prescriptions.
Common opiate medications include:
- Vicodin, the mild narcotic commonly used for dental procedures and migraines
- Oxycodone, which can be anywhere from 10-15% stronger and much more addictive
- Morphine, which provides immediate relief to overwhelming pain
- Fentanyl, which can be 100 to 1000 times stronger than morphine and is usually only prescribed to those with cancer.
This class of drugs is so addictive because they block the brain’s pain receptors. They quickly create a high tolerance and cause the brain to secrete dopamine. This produces a euphoric feeling. Their abuse can easily lead to overdose because. As a class of Central Nervous System Depressants, they can slow breathing down to a complete stop.
Amphetamines are typically prescribed to manage the symptoms of ADD or ADHD, as the drugs stimulate the ability to pay attention and stay focused. They’re also prescribed for narcolepsy, since they “wake up” the brain to counter inattentiveness. These are so prone to misuse and abuse, especially in college communities, because they boost the levels of a few “feel-good” chemicals in the brain and can improve focus. Common brands include Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and ProCentra.
The FDA has approved a new, unique form of amphetamine pills called Adzenys. form is a chewy, fruit-flavored formulation of the same drug used in Vyvanse and Adderall designed to help stressed out parents convince their children to take their ADHD medicine before school. However, there’s a rising concern that this new formulation will be easier to market and sell on the streets and will appeal to a younger audience.
What Are the Symptoms & Side Effects of Abusing Prescription Drugs?
Whereas with illegal drugs, the abuser would need to hide the entire addiction from loved ones, prescription drugs are socially and legally acceptable to take. This can make it much harder to tell if someone is actually abusing the drugs. If they have a doctor’s prescription for the medication, it can be much easier for them to justify taking it. Even if they don’t have a prescription, they can still make it seem like less of a big deal because it’s a legal substance.
The side effects of benzodiazepines on their own include:
- Memory loss
- Irregular heartbeat
However, when combined with other drugs or alcohol, they can become exponentially more dangerous and lead to hospitalization.
It can be hard to tell if someone you know is actually addicted to prescription opioids they’re prescribed. An innocent person can be prescribed something like Vicodin by a doctor and a few years down the road be suffering from a full-blown addiction. How does this happen?
These medications are usually started with the pure intention of treating pain. However many patients come to enjoy the effects of the meds. Because of this, addicts can become psychologically addicted long before they notice any physical signs.
If the doctor abruptly ceases filling prescriptions, the tolerance built up can lead to withdrawals. This awful sensation can send them to seek the drugs on the street. With so many options available illegally, then, it’s easy to transition to something stronger and unregulated.
When someone is addicted to prescription amphetamines, there is likely to be a change in their attitude and behavior:
- Personality changes that don’t fit them
- Unexplained decrease in weight or appetite
- Aged appearance
- Severe insomnia
- Bouts of euphoria followed by a crash
- Frequent mention of amphetamines
When used long-term, there could also be a number of much more serious effects from malnutrition and kidney complications to lung problems and cardiovascular symptoms.
At NLH, we’re experts at helping identify these symptoms. Call us today for help with your loved one’s recovery.
How Can I Tell if Someone is Addicted to Prescription Drugs?
Beyond understanding the signs and symptoms of particular prescription drugs, the best way to tell if someone is addicted to medication is to recognize behavioral warning signs. These signs may be subtle at first, but can grow in severity over time.
At first, you may notice small things like lack of focus in school and work, or recurring irritability. Over time, you may notice aggression begin to build within the person and shifting or damaged relationships with those they used to be close with.
Priorities will change, commitments will be pushed aside. Secrecy and lying can begin. One major “trick” that those addicted to prescription medications will use is learning the symptoms of someone who is typically prescribed the medication they want and repeating these symptoms to a doctor in order to get the script. They may even shop around with various doctors until they find one that will give.
Going to extreme measures such as this to obtain the drugs is a big indicator of an unhealthy addiction. We can help your loved one form new patterns towards a sober life, starting with the first appointment.
How Can New Life House Help?
New Life House can help if you know someone who’s struggling to stay sober after recovering from a prescription drug addiction.
This journey isn’t an easy one. Relapse is much more likely to occur when an individual doesn’t have proper support in transitioning back to normal life after detox.
At New Life House’s sober living community for young men, patients receive full support from a community of like-minded individuals and staff members. They get help they need to plan for a new, healthy life of sobriety.
Contact Us Today
Don’t wait another minute to ask for prescription drug abuse help. Call us now at New Life House to learn more about our sober living communities at (888) 357-7577.