Prescription Medication Addiction

Prescription Medication Addiction

Prescription medication addiction and abuse is a leading reason for a person to seek the help of a rehab, right after alcohol. The dramatic increase in the misuse and abuse of medications  has led to a corresponding increase in emergency room visits because of accidental overdoses and lethal cocktails. Unfortunately, because these drugs are deemed legal, many people assume the side effects and risk of addiction is less than illegal drugs like heroin. This is not always the case.

These legal drugs are readily available throughout the world and are prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter. They may be initially used to curb moderate to severe pain, alleviate depression, induce sleeping or reduce anxiety. Often a user means well and has no intention of getting addicted. A concern amongst the professionals in the addiction community is the lack of education from doctors to patients. In general, a person will not realize they have an addiction to the drug until it’s too late. To further this concern is the initial withdrawal. For many of these medications, a withdrawal is very serious and can be deadly if it is not monitored or controlled. It is this very reason, a rehab center should be considered for ay prescription medication addiction.

If you’re not familiar with this growing worldwide trend, we’ll explain the most common abused legal medications as well as, some concerning correlating statistics.

Prescription Medication Abuse and Addiction Statistics

  • 52 Million Adult Americans have abused prescription medications at least once. (1)
  • 7 million Americans abuse prescription medications on a regular basis. (1)
  • In 2012, there were 17,000 overdose deaths involving prescription opioid analgesics in the U.S. (2)
  • France is said to be the biggest abuser of prescription medications with 78 in 1000 actively abusing CNS depressants and other psychotropic drugs. (3)
  • Many experts state that Britain is beginning to show signs of a “US-style epidemic in the abuse of prescription drugs.” (4)

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Medications

Barbiturates

Barbiturate medications are prescribed as a sedative and help to treat anxiety, sleeping disorders and certain types of seizures. Brand names include Nembutal and Secondal. These should not be taken for more than 8 weeks at a time because of their associated long term risks. As you take them on a regular basis, a tolerance will build and an addiction will develop. In high doses, they can cause slowed breathing, low blood pressure and respiratory arrest. A barbiturate withdrawal is very challenging and can be deadly.

Benzodiazepines/ CNS Depressants

Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for long term (as needed) and preferred by doctors over barbiturates.  Brand names include Valium and Xanax.  As a sedative, they help to relieve anxiety, panic attacks and sleep problems. However, they can be misused and will promote a tolerance when taken for extended periods of time.

Sleep Medicines

Medications like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata are given to help people get the vital rest their body needs to allow them to function. Overusing them can cause dependency, further sleeping disorders and insomnia.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a stimulant prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Its brand names include Adderall and Dexedrine. The drugs’ effects will increase alertness, boost energy and suppress weight gain. These legal highs are commonly used amongst college students and busy working professionals.

Painkillers

Painkillers are used to dull or mitigate pain from an injury or surgery. Often it is the users who end up with an addiction, but not always. The effects are described as having a sense of euphoria or feeling carefree. Brand names are vast, but may include codeine, morphine, Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Lortab and Dilaudid.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

DXM is often available as an over the counter medication. As an ingredient in cold and cough medication it can help to break up phlegm and congestion. Large doses can cause euphoria, an intense high and hallucinations. It can also cause a rapid heart rate, vomiting and in severe cases brain damage.

Mixing Medications with Alcohol or other Drugs

When any of the medications above are mixed with alcohol or drugs, the effects are significantly increased. Many users seek these stronger feelings and purposely mix them. Often, these are the reasons behind fatal overdoses.

6 of the Most Common Reasons People Abuse Medications

Any underlying reasons or core issues aside, when prescription medication abusers were asked why they abused these specific drugs, their primary reasons were as follows.

  1. Legal and more accepted by society.
  2. Easily available.
  3. Cheaper and longer lasting than other substances.
  4. Can claim to have a prescription if caught by police.
  5. Believing there are no ill effects.
  6. Less stigma and shame attached to using.

Getting Help for Medication Addictions

An addiction to any prescription medication should not be taken lightly. Many of these drugs will require a monitored detoxification followed by intensive treatment. You will be able to recover and move into long term sobriety after the assistance of a rehab program. Thailand is one of the leading destinations to get help for addiction treatment. Serenity Chiang Rai, a center in the North of the country, offers a cost affordable private program which integrates the 12 steps with a number of alternative and fitness based therapies. Through this well rounded approach, you can begin to heal the body, mind and spirit. If you would like to know more about our prescription medication addiction treatment in Thailand, contact Serenity Chiang Rai today.

Statistic References:

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  2. Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence: 
  3. National Center for Policy Analysis: 
  4. Drug Watch: