How do I know if I have a problem with prescription drugs?
If you are getting prescription drugs from someone other than your doctor and/ or you are experiencing symptoms of drug abuse, you probably have a problem.
Often times, those with prescription drug dependency get their drugs from other people besides their doctors, or they trick their doctor into writing multiple prescriptions. Frequently, drug abusers also take higher doses than what’s prescribed.
Some symptoms that come with prescription drug abuse to look out for are: constipation, nausea, drowsiness, confusion, memory loss, slowed breathing, poor concentration, slurred speech, unsteady walking, mood swings, irregular heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, reduced appetite, and insomnia, among others.
If you aren’t certain if you have a drug abuse problem, get an evaluation from a doctor. They will be able to help you based on the prescriptions you’re taking and your typical behavior. If you need help finding where to get an evaluation, call at at 701-308-5836 and we can help you.
Can I detox from prescription drugs?
Yes, you can detox from prescription drugs.
Detox is considered the first step in treatment. It is the process by which the build up of drugs is removed from a user’s body. This is important because the effects of drugs impair the mental abilities you need to complete treatment. Treatment centers are highly experienced in helping people detox from a multitude of drugs. At a treatment center they may even be able to provide you with medications that help you cope with the intense withdrawal symptoms that can come with detoxing.
There is no “one treatment fits all” for detoxing. Treatment options range from counseling to out-patient care to residential treatment. The type of treatment you receive depends largely on how serious your drug dependence is. Some types of treatment out there are:
- Quitting “cold turkey”- Stopping consumption completely and suddenly without additional help. This highly NOT recommended.
- Counseling- Certain types of counseling can teach you how to maneuver your thoughts so that you become more aware of your thinking and don’t relapse.
- Rehabilitation- This is long-term treatment. With rehab you might stay at a hospital, clinic, or sober living home. Usually rehab treatments can last 30, 60, or 90 days, and they often involve some sort of counseling/ therapy.
Can I use heroin instead of my prescription pain medications?
No. Heroin is an illegal drug (when not prescribed by a doctor).
Aside from being illegal, heroin is a very dangerous drug. It is extremely addictive. The brain has opioid receptors, and heroin binds to them quickly and in many areas. It provides a sense of euphoria and can relieve pain, but it is very easy to overdose on it, and you might even die.
What do I do when my doctor won’t refill my prescription?
Your doctor probably has a good reason to not refill your prescription. However, if you feel that it needs to be, that is something you should talk with your doctor about. He/she may be able to prescribe you an alternative to the drug you had been taking.
DO NOT take someone else’s medication. Taking medication that is prescribed to someone else is a federal offense. Not only can you get in trouble, but the person who gave you their medication can also get in trouble. Furthermore, their doctor might not refill their prescription if they notice the patient used up their medication faster than they were supposed to.
What long-term damages can result from prescription drug abuse?
Misusing drugs comes with a variety of consequences. The consequences you experience depends on the drugs you’re abusing and on the state of your pre-existing health.
Opioids (like heroin) can lower your blood pressure and slow down your breathing to a dangerously low pace. Your breathing could stop and/or you could slip into a coma. If you overdose on opioids, there is a high chance you could die.
Anti-anxiety medication can also lower your blood pressure and slow your breathing in addition to causing issues with memory. Again, overdosing can lead to a coma or death. On the other hand, stimulants increase blood pressure and body temperature, and can cause heart problems, tremors, seizures, hallucinations, aggressiveness, and paranoia.
Abusing any type of drug can easily lead to developing a physical dependence on it. When you become dependent on a drug, you usually need to increase your doses in order to feel the same effects you did when starting out. You’ll also likely experience withdrawal symptoms if you try to cut back on or quit using a drug you’re physically dependent on.
Non-medical consequences that can come with prescription drug abuse are: getting involved in illegal activities, engaging in risky behaviors, car accidents, poor work performance, and rocky relationships to name a few.
For Loved Ones
I think my loved one stole some of my prescription medications. What do I do?
Drug use often leads to stealing. 50% of burglaries are related to drug use.
Drug addicts are usually afraid to explain the truth behind their hurtful behavior. They likely won’t say that they are addicted and that’s why they took your medications. They will probably say something like “I forgot to ask”, “you don’t remember me asking?”, “I didn’t think you would care”, etc.. Your loved one might even guilt you into letting it slide with phrases like “I would let you use mine if you needed to”, or “I would let you borrow money”.
Instead of aggressively confronting your loved one about this, approach them with compassion and love when they are sober. Being verbally aggressive can make your loved one defensive and less willing to admit they have a problem or that they need help. Do your best to come across as caring and supportive. Offer to be with them every step of their recovery journey.
If a casual conversation doesn’t make them aware of their issue, you may need to stage an intervention with other close friends and family.
Should I stage an intervention?
An intervention is the most effective tool to get a user to agree to get treatment. It is a planned out meeting with friends and family of the user. The goal of an intervention is for loved ones to express their concern for the user and for the user to agree to get treatment for their addiction immediately. The best way to do this is to make sure you address specific behaviors of the addict that are concerning, offer different options for treatment plans, and explain the consequences if the addict refuses treatment (e.g. revoking their car, kicking them out, etc.).
When thinking of who should be present at an intervention, try to include people the addict is close with emotionally, and those who truly care about the betterment of the addict. Usually, close family and friends are present. If appropriate, it could be good to have people the loved one knows from religious activities or work. Do not invite someone who might sabotage the intervention or who might try to be aggressive during the meeting.
There are professionals trained in the skill or organizing interventions. If you need help planning an intervention or would like an interventionist present when you host one, call us at 701-308-5836, and we can help you get a reliable professional to guide you through the process.
What kind of illegal drugs are are commonly sold masked as prescription drugs?
Opioids, depressants, and stimulants are the most common prescription drugs sold illegally.
Opioids are used for pain relief, cough relief, or diarrhea. Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the brain and the spinal cord, which then prevents the brain from recognizing pain. Some examples of common opioids are OxyContin, Vicodin, and Demerol.
Central nervous system depressants are meant to treat anxiety, panic attacks, tension, and sleep disorders. These depressants decrease brain activity by increasing the activity of GABA (a neurotransmitter). This causes a drowsy or calming effect. Some examples of illegally distributed depressants are Luminal, Valium, and Xanax.
Stimulants are usually used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Stimulants make users more alert, attentive, and energetic by increasing their brain activity. Popular stimulants are Ritalin and Adderall.
Fake prescription drugs can be dangerous for your health. They aren’t regulated in the same way legal prescription drugs are. This leaves a lot of room for error. For example, the drug could be laced with other drugs that you are unaware of. It could also have a different dosage than what you’re expecting and you could overdose.
The best way to avoid accidentally taking counterfeit drugs is to make sure you’re receiving your prescriptions from a pharmacist. If you are ordering your medications online, make sure you are ordering from a licensed distributor that is a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) approved by the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States. Regardless of where you get your medications, if you are experiencing side effects or your medications seem suspicious, tell your physician and pharmacist immediately.
What are the best treatment options for someone addicted to prescription drugs?
No one treatment works for everyone. Everyone has different treatment needs. Some popular treatment options are detoxification, addiction medication, counseling, psychotherapy, hospitalization, and residential treatment.
Counseling is a great option for many recovering addicts. In counseling they often learn why their addiction started, what triggers their drug use, and ways they can become mentally independent from drugs. There are also several types of counseling, such as individual, group, and family counseling. Each of these styles has their own unique benefits and goals.
Other treatment focuses more on the physical side of addiction. Detox works to flush toxins that have built up in the users body from prolonged drug use. It also helps to help them break the physical dependency they probably have. Detox is usually required before starting a rehabilitation program.
As far as rehabilitation goes, there are different intensities of programs. Usually, there are 30, 60, and 90- day programs. The shorter programs are often the most intense. However, the longer programs have a higher success rate, but all program lengths provide priceless improvements to a recovering user’s life.
If you would like to talk to a professional about what treatment options may be available for your loved one, call us at 701-308-5836. We would love to help your loved one get their life back on track.
Why have prescription drugs become so widely misused in the US?
The misuse of prescription drugs in the United States is likely due to the increase in availability. The number of prescriptions for some medications has increased significantly since the early 1990s. There are, however, factors related to age, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographical location that are contributors to prescription drug abuse.
Most misuse of drugs is done by people between the ages of 18 and 25. This is likely due to the increase in Adderall and anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medications. Additionally, in the last year, of people aged 12 or older who misused pain relievers, the most common source for the last pain reliever that was misused was from a friend or relative. While youth still use alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco more than prescription drugs, 6% of high school seniors reported non-medical use of Adderall and 2% reported misusing Vicodin in 2017.
Young people aren’t the only ones who misuse prescription drugs, though. More than 80 percent of people ages 57 to 85 use at least one prescription medication daily. Many of these people take more than one medication at a time as well. This can lead to accidental overdose or an accidental mismatch of drug consumption.
To talk to a professional about prescription drug abuse, call us at 701-308-5836.