How Prescription Drugs Can Lead to Drug Rehabilitation

Prescription drugs are ubiquitous in today’s society. Almost everyone has taken some kind of prescription medication at one time or another, but not all of us require drug rehabilitation. And with the increase in prescription drug advertisements on television, consumption of these drugs seems fairly harmless and commonplace nowadays. You may even think that taking a few painkillers or sleeping pills to get you through a stressful day is no big deal.

But the spate of celebrity deaths in recent years – Brittany Murphy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heath Ledger, for example – is one indication that the widespread use of prescription drugs is anything but harmless. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse cites prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications as the third most commonly abused substances in America. In our previous posts, we looked at some statistics about prescription drug abuse and recognizing the signs of this addiction. In this post, we’ll address some of the realities of prescription drug abuse and rehabilitation.

Perception vs. Reality
Many people conjure a stereotypical image of a strung-out junkie when they think about drug addiction. But this is simply not true in many cases, especially with prescription medication addiction. The most at-risk groups for this kind of addiction are actually teenage girls and older people who have been prescribed chronic medications. But almost everyone is at risk of abusing prescription drugs – in no small part because of their availability and the perception that they are harmless and manageable.

One growing trend, for example, is young professionals and students using OTC or prescription stimulants to help them keep up with their workload. Adderall – an amphetamine used to treat ADHD – has become a popular prescription drug for this very purpose. Many young people feel the immense pressure to maintain their grades or meet deadlines, turning to Adderall as a quick fix to help them focus, work faster, and stay up all night. However, this medication is highly addictive and dangerous. It can cause damage to the cardiovascular system, lead to bouts of depression and insomnia, and can even lead to overdose at fairly low dosages. Withdrawal can be severe, and detoxing from Adderall should be done with medical supervision or an in-patient drug rehabilitation program.

But what if you’re trying to get to sleep instead of staying awake? Most people who use sleeping pills are prescribed these drugs for legitimate medicinal purposes and never become addicted. However, the risk is prevalent. With increasing tolerance, many users consume more and more pills, putting them at serious risk of accidental overdose. This can be especially dangerous for people with asthma and lung problems, or when sleeping pills are combined with other legal or illegal substances. Again, withdrawal and detox can be dangerous, and should be carried out with the help of a medical professional.

Tackling Prescription Medication Addiction
Prescription medication should be treated in the same way we think of other ‘hard drugs’. They can be both mentally and physically addictive, can cause severe damage to the body and brain, and can be fatal. If you find yourself reaching for your painkillers or cough syrup more often than the prescribed dosage allows, you should consider cutting back or halting use altogether. And if that thought really scares you, you probably need the help of a drug rehabilitation program to detox and stay clean. With the support and structure of a treatment plan, prescription medication addiction can be overcome.