Prescription drug abuse has become a chronic problem impacting a wide variety of individuals. People abuse prescription drugs for the same reasons they abuse illegal drugs. They like the effect produced by the drug. Many people also tell themselves if they have a prescription for a drug then it’s not a problem. They argue it’s not the same as someone who abuses an illegal drug like heroin or cocaine.
For most people the intention to take drugs begins to alleviate a problem. It might be pain, insomnia, or a mental health disorder. Most people take drugs as prescribed. Reports indicate at least 20% of Americans have taken a prescription medication not as prescribed. This can include taking increased doses or taking medication that wasn’t prescribed to you.
One class of prescription drugs that are abused are opiate painkillers. They are usually prescribed for moderate to severe pain resulting from an injury or surgery. They work by binding to different receptors in our brain, reducing the perception of pain. Some examples of opioid pain relievers are fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. Over time a tolerance builds up. A tolerance means you need a higher dose of the same medicine to provide the same level of pain relief.
There are many reasons people abuse prescription drugs. Personality can play a role in whether someone abuses prescription drugs, or whether they become addicted. Some people use drugs to self-medicate physical or emotional pain. Some things that individuals may attempt to self-medicate using prescription drugs are:
- Low self-esteem
- Physical pain
- Psychotic symptoms
Individuals with mental health disorders, like anxiety and depression, are more likely to abuse drugs than those without mental disorders. Individuals who are depressed may be tempted to use stimulants to give them energy, while individuals with insomnia or anxiety may take benzodiazepines to help them sleep. Over time a tolerance builds up and higher doses of the medication are needed to produce the same effect. This is a key indicator of addiction.
Whether it was physical pain, a mental health disorder, or another reason that lead you to prescription drugs, if you are taking more than prescribed or more often than prescribed, you may have a problem. The good news is there is hope. Many individuals who have abused prescription drugs have recovered. Reaching out for help is the first step.
Hope exists in recovery. Design For Change offers a refuge for addicts seeking recovery in a long term residential program with a full continuum of care options. Grounded in the 12 step philosophy, our programs focus on creating change by taking action. Call us today for information on how we are changing lives, one step at a time: (877) 267-3646