In recent years, prescription drug abuse has become a problem of epidemic proportions that claims the lives of more than 60,000 Americans each year as a result of fatal overdoses.
The kinds of prescription drugs that are contributing to this crisis are opiate-based medications that are generally used to treat chronic pain. Many people who are coping with a serious injury or chronic pain condition find themselves becoming dependent on the effects of painkiller prescription drugs just to cope with their distressing symptoms.
Research shows that around 100 million Americans have chronic pain conditions which are characterized by pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Unlike acute pain which is temporary, chronic pain is persistent and can affect a person for weeks, months and sometimes years.
Whether a person’s pain is the result of injury or ongoing illness, it can be extremely difficult to treat and has a significantly negative impact on their lives. This is one of the reasons painkiller prescription drug abuse has increased exponentially in recent years and consequently, so has addiction
How Does Prescription Drug Abuse Become Addiction?
The way painkiller prescription drugs work is by blocking pain signals to the brain by stimulating dopamine production, the neurotransmitter responsible for sending signals of pleasure and euphoria.
However, when someone has been taking opiate medications for a while, their bodies become tolerant to their effects, which makes their pain difficult to manage without increasing the dose. In these cases, physicians are invariably unwilling to increase the prescribed dose of opiates because of the highly addictive nature of these drugs.
This means that a person struggling to cope with their intensely painful symptoms can find themselves shopping around physicians or seeking illegal opiates such as heroin and before long, their need to take painkillers becomes a compulsion rather than a voluntary action.
When someone has become dependent or addicted to prescription drugs, they may not be aware that there is a problem, particularly because the source of the drugs was originally their physician’s office.
However, it is very possible to treat prescription drug abuse effectively by following these steps:
Admitting the Problem
A person struggling with prescription drug abuse needs to first admit the problem to themselves before they can communicate what they’re going through to others. Sharing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about their health and their future with people they trust is a significant stride in the right direction.
Deciding to Change
Talking to trusted loved ones about what they’re going through is a major breakthrough for someone who has become dependent on prescription drugs. It means that they are ready to commit to change and that it’s time to actively seek out the help they need to overcome their issues.
Overcome Fear and Pride
Many people have a misconception of addiction as being a lifestyle choice, whereas this is very far from the truth. Despite this, people struggling with drug abuse can fear to bring their issues into the open because of the potential damage to their reputation. However, this is the kind of attitude that leads to people not being treated, increasing the risk of their drug abuse getting worse. Overcoming fear and pride is important before someone commits themselves fully to treatment.
In the majority of cases, the best form of detox for someone with prescription drug abuse disorder is with around-the-clock medical supervision. This is mainly because withdrawal from opiate-based drugs can be very distressing and some of the symptoms potentially life-threatening. Having qualified medical staff on-hand to provide treatment for these withdrawal symptoms as they emerge can sometimes make the difference between life and death.
Raising awareness of substance abuse will serve to encourage more people to reach out for help, particularly if they are not aware that prescription drugs can be just as addictive as their illegal street alternatives.
Prescription Drug Abuse Rehab
Receiving treatment in a specialist painkiller rehab center can give addicts and those close to them the opportunity to embark on a strategy towards recovery, where everyone’s needs are supported throughout.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A vital part of substance abuse treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy helps recovering addicts acquire the life skills and coping strategies they need to cope with life without drugs. For people experiencing chronic pain, alternative or complementary therapies can be used to allow them to manage their symptoms in a much healthier way than opiate-based substances.
Having someone to talk to when faced with difficult circumstances or stressors for relapse in recovery can make a world of difference. There is plenty of support available for addicts and their families including religious organizations or gender-specific groups so that finding appropriate support is easily possible.
Build a New Life
When someone leaves a painkiller rehab center, although they will not be cured, their chances of leading a full and happy life are significantly improved. Although this change can be intimidating for some, many find their new lives in recovery more rewarding than they imagined because of everything they’ve learned about themselves in a painkiller rehab center.