Chemical dependence is a puzzling, baffling issue. It is important to understand that it is a disease issue, not a moral issue. And while it may be a critical issue for those who become addicted (and those around them), it is not a hopeless issue. The hope lies in acceptance and courage, in surrender and gratitude, and most of all in the ordinary people who are willing to share their stories with others who need to hear them.
Prescription drug addiction is becoming a growing problem that is usually not recognized as serious as it should be. Many people feel that if it is prescribed by a doctor it must be safe. Many times if taken for a short period of time, as directed, it can be safe. But we have heard time and time again of the overdoses related to pill addiction. (Watch “Overtaken” video on this site). What we must recognize is that prescription drug addicts are addicted in the same way that those who get hooked on street drugs such as cocaine, heroin or even alcohol.
A prescription drug addict uses medications in a way that they were originally not intended for or to a much greater extent. They come to depend on them to feel better and experience cravings for them in between doses. The drug use continues despite negative consequences to the user, including relationships, job and/or physical problems.
Prescription medications are drugs that can work on the user’s brain in much the same way that their illegal counterparts do. When the user begins to take these drugs for a period of time they begin to change the brain’s chemistry making it less effective at producing chemicals like dopamine or endorphins. Since the brain has stopped producing these chemicals on their own it must seek the chemicals from an outside source. At this point the prescription drug addict has become physically dependent on the medication.
A person who is dependent on these medications may experience some of the following symptoms:
Anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of interests in relationships with friends and/or family and withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop on their own.
And if combined with other prescription drugs, illegal drugs and/or alcohol it may have some serious side effects on the central nervous system and can cause respiratory distress or failure, or even death.
Pain killers such as Oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Darvon, Methadone, Dilaudid, Demerol, Darvocet, Morphine, Codeine, Fentanyl and several others.
Sedatives: Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Ativan, Benzodiazepines, most prescribed sleeping medications.
Uppers: Adderall, Ritalin, Amphetamines, Dextromethorphan, and most diet pills.
If you see some signs and symptoms of prescription medication abuse get help as soon as possible. As with all other drug addictions, the sooner the intervention the easier it is to gain long term recovery.