The dark world of drug abuse and addiction is commonly thought of in terms of things like heroin and cocaine. And while the ‘big name’ illegal drugs are a large part of the problem, they are not the only problem. All over the UK, there are untold numbers of people addicted to common prescription drugs like morphine and codeine.
What starts out as a legitimate medical use for prescription drugs can easily become an addiction without warning. It is critical for anyone using a potentially addictive prescription to follow the doctor’s instructions explicitly throughout the entire regiment. Once treatment is complete, any excess medication should be disposed of properly.
Have you been taking prescription medication for a significant length of time? If so, are any of your prescriptions labelled as potentially addictive? Please take the time to seriously consider your circumstances if there is even the slightest chance you may be addicted to a prescription drug.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Prescription drug experts classify the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the UK under three categories: opioids, stimulants, and depressants. We will talk about each one, beginning with opioids.
Prescription opioids used as painkillers include drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone. These drugs work for pain relief by shutting down pain receptors in the body. The side effects of these drugs include feelings of euphoria and hallucinations. It is the euphoric feelings that make them very attractive to drug abusers.
The stimulant class of drugs is mainly used to treat things like depression, chronic sleep disorders, and ADHD. Two examples of commonly prescribed stimulants are dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate. They also lead to feelings of euphoria, which, like opioids, encourage drug abusers to take them. Unfortunately, they are a bit more dangerous because of their tendency to cause high blood pressure, accelerated heart rate, etc.
Finally, the class of drugs known as depressants (or sedatives) includes things like diazepam and phenobarbital. The sedating effect of these drugs is largely due to the reduced brain activity that results from taking them. Depressants are commonly used to treat chronic insomnia and anxiety. They can be very dangerous when consumed with alcohol or while taking other drugs.
The one thing all of these drugs have in common is the fact that they are legally dispensed by a GP or other medical professional. When taken as directed, they are all effective in treating the conditions for which they are prescribed. Nevertheless, outside the boundaries of the prescription bad things happen.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction
There are a number of symptoms and signs of prescription drug addiction directly related to the drugs being used. For example, someone addicted to an opioid might exhibit chronic constipation, reduced breathing rate, poor coordination, and regular confusion. Someone addicted to a stimulant might suddenly gain weight while exhibiting restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and impulsive behaviours.
Physical symptoms aside, there are certain behavioural characteristics that are observed in many prescription drug addicts. Those behavioural characteristics include:
frequent mood swings and unexplained hostility
taking medication at higher than prescribed doses
seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors
continuously seeking new prescriptions to replace those that have been ‘lost’
attempting to forge prescriptions or steal those intended for others.
The best way to identify potential prescription drug abuse or addiction in the life of a loved one is to simply observe how the individual takes his or her medication. If their behaviour is outside what is normally observed among those taking prescription medications, there is cause for concern.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
An addiction to prescription drugs can pose a special problem for recovery. The problem comes by way of the original medical condition that prompted the prescription to begin with. For example, someone abusing stimulants that were prescribed to treat depression likely has a dual diagnosis situation requiring both the addiction and the depression to be treated.
The treatment will need to continue dealing with the depression while at the same time breaking both the physical and psychological dependence on the drugs. This type of situation requires specialists who have extensive knowledge in dual diagnosis conditions.
At any rate, conquering addiction to prescription drugs will require detox and its associated withdrawal symptoms. Please understand that detox is considered a medical emergency that should never be undertaken without the direct supervision of medical personnel. Simply put, do not attempt to quit taking prescription drugs on your own if you know you are addicted.
The problem with prescription drugs is that they have a very definite effect on the way your body works. Take sedatives for example. As previously stated, they work by reducing brain activity in the individual taking them. If you were to suddenly stop, without anything to gradually modulate brain activity, it could lead to a hyperactive state that could result in seizures, involuntary muscle tremors, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and more.
Medically Supervised Treatment
As an invaluable referral and counselling service in Essex, our recommendations always begin with encouraging individuals to seek medically supervised treatment. Under medical supervision, you can undergo detox in a way that reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms while mitigating the risk of potential complications. Medically supervised detox is available through private clinics and the NHS.
Once the detox is complete, you will need to spend some time undergoing therapeutic treatments that will help you overcome the emotional and mental issues associated with drug addiction. These therapies are every bit as important as detox. Without them, you are likely to return to addictive behaviour very soon after completing your detox programme.
We prefer to arrange for detox and rehab through a private clinic. Although NHS and community-based services can be helpful, residential treatment boasts a much greater success rate because they are specialists at what they do. We can help you find a clinic in Essex or another part of England; a clinic that will provide you with the help you need to overcome addiction. All you need to do to start down that road of recovery is call our addiction helpline right now.