Prescription Drug Addiction

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What Is Prescription Drug Addiction?

A prescription drug addiction, like all forms of drug addiction, is a chronic, relapsing illness characterised by a compulsive need to abuse prescribed medication. While you may have started using prescription drugs with the best of intentions, long term use and misuse can spiral out of control, leading to addiction and a host of challenges that might feel difficult to overcome.

There are plenty of prescription drugs that can be abused but certain types are more common than others. The most commonly abused substances include painkillers (opiates), benzodiazepines and stimulants (ADHD medication).

Prescription drugs can be sold as tablets, capsules, in liquid form and in patches. You may have started using them on a prescription but now find yourself buying substances from vendors on the streets or “online pharmacies”.

Addiction potential

Certain substances are only available under controlled prescriptions because they carry a high risk of abuse potential. The abuse potential of a substance does not necessary correlate with addiction potential because it depends on the individual and the reasons why they abuse medication. Regardless of the substance, addiction is a psychological illness and not everyone who takes prescribed medications (or those who abuse them), develop an addiction.

Prescription drug abuse is defined as:

  • Taking more than what was prescribed for you
  • Taking your prescription more often than you should
  • Using prescribed medicines for non-medical reasons or recreationally
  • Using someone else’s prescription

In any event, prescription drug abuse or addiction can lead to dependence, which can result in severe withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to stop taking these medications.

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Signs & Symptoms

If you are maintaining a prescription drug addiction, you may be struggling with some of these behaviours and consequences:

  • Shopping online or on the darknet
  • Buying substances off the street
  • Visiting multiple doctors to get more prescriptions
  • A decline in your work or school performance
  • A decline in your personal appearance or hygiene
  • Neglecting work, school or personal obligations

Different prescription drugs have specific physical symptoms associated with their short and long-term use. However most of them will also cause

  • Mood swings, that are contingent on whether it is available
  • Dysregulated sleep patterns, including insomnia
  • Anxiousness or edginess
  • Intermittent alcohol or other substance abuse.

Getting Help

If you have developed an addiction to prescription medication, it may be dangerous to stop taking them until you have spoken to a medical professional.

When abused, medications such as benzodiazepines or opiates can lead to drug dependence. Drug dependence is the physical dependence on a substance which can lead to severe and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly.

Here at the Providence Projects, we offer both a medically-assisted detox & residential rehab programme to help tackle the root causes of addiction and dependence. Through a process of rehabilitation, you can begin to heal both physically and psychologically from the effects of prescription drug addiction & dependence.

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