Sunrise Recovery Ranch offers trusted prescription drug addiction treatment in Riverside, California. To better serve the individual needs of our clients, Sunrise Recovery Ranch provides gender-specific rehabilitation to deliver more successful recovery.
Understanding Prescription Drug Addiction
Learn about prescription drugs and substance abuse
Our rehab helps opiate-addicted individuals – especially Oxy, Vicodin, and other painkillers. We have many programs at our treatment & rehab centers for men and women who are addicted to medications. Many of our clients also abuse alcohol with opioids -an incredibly lethal combo.
Prescription medications may have played a significant, beneficial role for some. But nothing could have prepared us for the shocking rise in the non-medical use and abuse of prescription meds that has erupted in the past 10 years.
Signs of a Prescription Drug Addiction
Here are some signs that you may be addicted to prescription drugs:
- Taking larger or more frequent doses of the medication
- Continuing to take the medication even after your symptoms have gone away, or for reasons other than the symptoms for which it was prescribed
- Obtaining medication from other people that was not prescribed to you
- A lack of interest in curing your symptoms through anything other than the medication, such as lifestyle changes or holistic treatments
- Obtaining more dosages and prescriptions through multiple doctors or pharmacies
- Making up symptoms to obtain more medication
- A history of addiction to drugs or alcohol
- People who have become dependent on or addicted to prescription medication may also experience depression, anxiety and mood swings.
The “Silent Epidemic”
The coverage and alarm for the explosion of prescription medication abuse is nowhere near adequate for the level of harm these drugs are causing. That is why we call prescription drug abuse the “silent epidemic” of the global health care system. In particular, there is a rampant abuse of opioids/opiates like OxyContin/oxycodone and Percocet/Percodan as well as narcotic painkillers like Vicodin/hydrocodone. Young people have discovered these prescription meds and are using them recreationally, while mature adults are victimized by the addiction to a medication they were originally prescribed for pain and other medical conditions.
Some contributing factors leading to the incredible growth in prescription drug abuse are:
- They are legally prescribed to some people (and therefore, widely available).
- Many people who blindly trust their physician will become dependent without realizing it.
- There is less stigma attached to the abuse of prescription medications than there is for users of illegal drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine.
Deadly When Taken in Excess (or Mixed with Alcohol)
“Accidental” prescription drug deaths are at an all-time high in the United States. A recent study of death certificates shows that home deaths from prescription drug overdoses have gone up dramatically in the past 20 years (from 1,132 deaths in 1983 to 12,426 in 2004). That represents an increase of more than 700 percent during that time period (when adjusted for population growth). Although awareness of this danger spikes periodically around the time of celebrity overdoses like that of Heath Ledger in early 2008, we feel that this epidemic is not getting anywhere near the attention it deserves.
The Three Classes of Addictive Prescription Drugs
The three classes of prescription medications – opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants – all have different effects on the user, but they all alter the brain’s activity and lead to dependence and addiction.
Opioids, because of their analgesic properties, are most often prescribed for treatment of pain. Medications that fall within this class include morphine, codeine, and related drugs. Morphine, for example, is often used before or after surgery to alleviate severe pain. Codeine, because it is less efficacious than morphine, is used for milder pain. Other opioids often prescribed to alleviate pain include propoxyphene (Darvon), hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and meperidine (Demerol). In addition to their pain-relieving properties, some of these drugs – codeine and diphenoxylate (Lomotil), for example – can be used to relieve coughs and diarrhea.
Addiction to a particular opioid called oxycodone (commercially sold as OxyContin), has been extremely common in recent years (especially in rural areas). People are short circuiting the 12-hour time-release nature of this medication by chewing, crushing, or dissolving the pills, which enables them to experience a rapid and intense euphoria that does not occur when taken as designed and prescribed.
Once having crushed the pills, OxyContin abusers inject, inhale, or take them orally, often with other pills, marijuana, or alcohol. The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, is a synthetic opiate – similar to morphine – that is particularly attractive to the user and is finding increasing abuse in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
The euphoric effect produced, and the fact that many people perceive prescription painkillers as “safe,” are likely reasons that this drug is being abused in such alarming numbers. There are indicators, in fact, that OxyContin is being used by many as a substitute for heroin.
CNS Depressants and Downers
The second class of prescription medications is CNS depressants, used in the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders because they slow normal brain function. These include barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral) and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), which are used to treat anxiety, tension, and sleep disorders. Other CNS depressants include benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide HCl (Librium), and alprazolam (Xanax), which are often prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks.
Stimulants or Prescription Amphetamines
The third class of prescription medications often abused is stimulants, prescribed to treat such issues as the sleep disorder narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As the name suggests, stimulants enhance brain activity. They cause an increase in alertness, attention, and energy, accompanied by elevated blood pressure and increased heart rate and respiration. Stimulants were used historically to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. However, as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane.
Prolonged use of prescription medications eventually changes the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways, explaining why people cannot just quit on their own and why treatment at a rehab center in one of our programs is essential.
Statistics about Prescription Drug Addiction
Here are some things you should know about prescription drug addiction:
- The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids (for pain), depressants (for sleep and anxiety disorders) and stimulants (for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
- About 50 percent of people have used a prescription drug in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The number of overdose deaths from opioid painkillers such as morphine and codeine more than tripled between 1999 and 2006, according to the CDC.
- About 20 percent of people have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
Fortunately, an addiction to prescription drugs in treatable. A residential treatment center for drug addiction can help you to end your addiction to prescription drugs and learn to manage without them. Residential treatment centers often offer treatment modalities that can help you to treat the symptoms for which you were taking prescription medication. For example, if you were taking medication for chronic pain, you will work with pain specialists on ways to better manage the symptoms of your pain without relying on drugs.
If you are suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder in addition to your prescription drug addiction, a residential treatment center can also help you to recover from those. Effective treatment involves addressing your main addiction and any co-occurring disorders for a more complete recovery.
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