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How to treat prescription drug addiction

Prescription drug addiction is becoming a major public health concern in the U.S. So, how do you identify prescription drug addiction or abuse and how are these conditions treated? We review here. Save your question(s) for the end, as we try to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

Types of prescription drugs commonly abused

In order to be able to identify a prescription drug addiction and then address it, you need to double check the presence of any of these medications at your home for a longer period of time (usually consecutive use over the course of three (3) months or more). The three main groups of prescribed medications that are commonly abused are Opiates/Opioids, Depressants, and Stimulants.

Opiates and Opioids. In general, the opiate and opioid class of medications are prescribed to treat pain. These pain relievers work directly by interacting with pain receptors in the brain to change the way the brain perceives pain and can manifest specific symptoms of pain killer abuse. Opioids also cause the sense of euphoria by affecting pleasure centers. The most commonly usedused are morphine (Kadian, Avinza), codeine, oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet), hydrocodone (Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin), propoxyphene (Darvon), fentanyl (Duragesic), morphine, methadone, and hydromorphone (Dilaudid).

Depressants. Central nervous system (CNS) depressants commonly are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. These medications have the ability to slow the brain functions in normal conditions. Common medications include barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral), pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), butalbital (Fioricet), and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide HCl (Librium), alprazolam (Xanax), triazolam (Halcion), and others.

Stimulants. Stimulants, including dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), are used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit disorder, and narcolepsy. Stimulants increase the amount of certain chemicals in the brain and peripheral nervous system. This can lead to increased blood pressure and heart rate, and increased blood glucose.

Prescription drug addiction treatment: Are you even addicted?

Prescription medications are very useful treatments, especially when supporting outpatient treatment. However,pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives can also be abused. And many cases of drug abuse result in prescription drug addiction. Dosage can increase over time, therapeutic use can shift to seeking euphoric effect, or a therapy timeline is rescheduled without a doctor’s opinion.

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So when does prescription drug use become a problem? Non-medical use of prescription medications is the first indicator of prescription drug abuse. Using drugs to get high or for euphoric effect and using Rx drugs OTHER THAN PRESCRIBED indicates a drug problem. On the other hand, prescription drug addiction is characterized by four specific (psychological) symptoms.

1. Drug craving

2. Obsessive or compulsive thinking about a drug

3. Continued drug use despite negative consequences to home, social, or work life

4. Loss of control of drug use (using more of a drug than intended, using a drug more frequently than intended, or the inability to stop using a drug)

The most common general physical signs of prescription drug addiction include:

  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • euphoria during drug use
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • sweating
  • trouble sleeping
  • vomiting

Treating prescription drug addiction

Prescription drug addiction usually requires professional intervention. Many different types of healthcare providers can play a significant role in discovering and addressing drug abuse. Treatments meant to help a prescription drug addict often use combined techniques in order to cover the complexity of the health condition. Depending on the medication abused as well as individual needs, treatment can vary. However, a combination of behavioral and pharmacological treatments are usually practiced.

Medications for prescription drug addiction treatment

Pharmacological treatment for drug addiction can address symptoms of withdrawal, mood disorders, and/or cravings. However, the risk that the substitute drug becomes the next medication abused is also present. The bottom line is that the use of drugs varies for different types of prescription drug addition. For example, opioid addiction has been clinically tested to respond to the use of methadone, buprenorphine, and/or naltrexone. However, there is no current use of medications in the treatment of Adderall addiction.

Behavioral and psychological treatments

Therapy is the foundation for prescription drug addiction recovery. The goal of behavioral and psychological treatments are to support emerging positive responses to environmental cues, turning them into habits. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, individual, group, and family counseling have the potential to help enable addicts in living a normal, healthy life. The Matrix Model is good example of a well structured and simplified approach including cognitive behavioral principles, individual and family therapy, 12 step program and weekly urine monitoring for drug use. Other kinds of behavioral treatment include contingency management, motivational interviewing, and support groups.

Treatment for prescription drug addiction

So where can you go to receive treatment for prescription drug addiction?

1. Treatment centers. Addiction treatment centers are facilities that offer the full scope of both behavioral and pharmacological treatment, and are supervised by some of the the most experienced professionals in the field. Treatment centers are most often recommended for the treatment of addictionsimply because they can monitor, treat and facilitate follow up for each patient and his family.

2. Detox clinics. Drug detox clinics have the capacity to assist in the case of intoxication, detoxication, or overdose. These clinics process hundreds or thousands of visits per year through their emergency departments. Staff supervise the medical removal of prescription drugs from the system, at the same time providing pharmacological and psycho-emotional support.

3.Physicians. A physician can help you identify and diagnose prescription drug addiction. Physicians are informed about patient’s medications, health history, and can easily track the refill dates. Furthermore, physicians can assess your case using a brief intervention and then refer you to local resources according to your needs.

Psychiatrists can be another good place to receive solid advice for prescription drug addiction. Some psychiatrists specialize in drug addiction and can easily unveil addictive behavior, even at the earliest stages. Furthermore, psychiatrists can help explore possible co-occurring disorders and/or prescribe medications, when necessary.

4. Psychologists. Licensed clinical psychologists are trained to identify and treat drug addiction using psychotherapy and behavioral treatments. They can provide you with a safe environment in which to explore the reasons why you use drugs.

5. Support groups. Prescription drug addiction support groups are non-formal, patient-based groups that organize private meetings to share experiences and offer support. This form of mutual aid benefits both former addicts and those new to recovery through empathy.

6. Social workers. Licensed clinical social workers often have a different perspective when addressing addiction. Social workers can assist you in the selection of a financially suitable treatment center and refer you to state programs to support yourself or family members during and after treatment.

How to treat prescription drug addiction questions

Still have questions about the treatment of prescription drug addiction? Please feel free to post your question(s) in the comments section below. We try to respond to all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt answer.

References Sources: NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment
Utah Department of Human Resources
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Prescription Drug Alert

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6 Responses to “How to treat prescription drug addiction
6:40 am September 21st, 2014

Hi I was have been on Norcos for 5 years prescribed 3/10mg a day the last year i was taking 6-8 a day. 27 days ago i decide to quit cold turkey I was really lucky my withdrawls werent nearly as bad as some peoples & now i feel great besides my constant neck & shoulder pain ( i was thrown from a moving car 5 years ago) but i refuse to go back on pain meds. My only real problems is sleep or lack of, I dint have RLS but my arms & hands constantly jerk & twitch soon as i close me eyes it drives me insane i have tried a bunch of OTC sleep meds & they only make it worse, i s there anything i can do to fall asleep? Will i ever sleep sgain?

10:09 am September 22nd, 2014

Hello Amie. Don’t worry, you will be able to sleep normally again soon. As your body regenerates, brain’s function will also return to normal and achieve homeostasis. Consider taking melatonin and work towards relaxation via deep breathing and other exercises.

7:48 am October 25th, 2014

I stop smoking spice a week ago but I still feel bad my neck feels numb my head too how long is it gonna take me to feel better?

3:29 pm October 27th, 2014

Hi Robert. Spice withdrawal takes a while to end. But, even after it’s normal, your organism still needs time to slowly heal. The good news is that if you aren’t using, your body is working on haling itself. So, you’ll get there, don’t wory. It will only be getting better from now on.

11:46 pm December 23rd, 2014

Hello its Robert again its been almost month and a half I stop using k2 I feel better but my eyes hurt and I see flashing on my eyes they hurt is that normal

3:23 pm December 29th, 2014

Hi Robert. I know that other people have also complained about pain in the eyes. The thing is, synthetic marijuana still doesn’t have much scientific clarity around it and it’s symptoms. My advise is to see an eye doctor for a professional opinion and perhaps treatment.

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