The Truth About Prescription Pill Addictions

prescription pill addiction

Prescription pill addiction involves more than just opioids and other pain medications. There are four broad classes of prescription pills that are commonly abused. These include opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives, and stimulants. Although many who are prescribed prescription medications take them properly, there is still a substantial portion of the population who misuse them, resulting in addiction and the need for intensive addiction treatment. In 2017 it was estimated that more than 18 million people had misused prescription medications in the last year. While current data is not available, it is assumed based on historical statistics that this number has only continued to grow with misuse rates among adults ages 18-25 being some of the highest at nearly 15%. In these surveys, more people report using controlled prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined putting prescription drugs just behind marijuana when it comes to illicit drug use.

Commonly Prescribed Prescription Pills

The rate of prescription drug abuse and addiction is currently considered a pandemic in the United States and only worsening with time. Unfortunately, many who end up addicted to prescription pills do so after being prescribed the drug for legitimate reasons. Also, many teens believe prescription medications to be “safer” than other drugs because a medical provider prescribes them; thus, they are more likely to misuse them. As previously noted, prescription pill addiction generally applies to four categories of drugs. 

Opioids

Opioids or prescription painkillers are used to treat severe or chronic pain conditions. They are also among the most over prescribed medication classes. Common opioids include OxyContin, Lortab, Morphine, and Percocet.

Stimulants

Adderall, a commonly prescribed stimulant, is typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Other medications similar to Adderall include Concerta and Ritalin.

Sedatives and Tranquilizers

Sedatives and tranquilizers are quite similar and generally produce the same intoxication effects. This category includes sleeping pills, which are classified as sedative-hypnotics. Other drugs that fall into this category are benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are a form of prescription sedative. They are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms related to anxiety or to help with insomnia. The most frequently prescribed benzodiazepines are Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.

How Do You Get Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

Opioids, stimulants, and sedatives can be beneficial for some individuals who have been diagnosed with certain medical disorders or who struggle with chronic pain. However, many of these medications have extremely high addictive potential and, consequently, are often abused or sold illegally. But why is it that some people who take these medications develop a prescription pill addiction and others do not? For some, it may be related to genetic predisposition for addiction in general. Also, those who have a first-degree relative who suffered from a substance abuse disorder are significantly more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder than those without such a family history. Environmental factors such as peer influence and family dynamics can also play a role in prescription pill addiction.

While all of the above and other factors play a role in prescription pill addiction, one of the most common ways people get addicted to prescription drugs is through the use of the medication itself. It is not uncommon for someone who is prescribed prescription pain medication for chronic pain to take these medications for extended periods. Eventually, the initially prescribed dose is not sufficient to mitigate the pain, and higher doses are consumed to achieve the same feeling as before. This is called developing a tolerance, and it is one of the most common ways addiction develops.

Signs of a Prescription Pill Addiction

The signs and symptoms of prescription pill addiction will vary based on the specific pill being used. Some of the common behavioral signs that may indicate addiction may include doctor shopping, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, requesting refills more often than necessary, “losing” prescriptions and seeking replacements, sudden mood changes, demanding more privacy, and a host of others. Aside from the signs mentioned above and symptoms, long-term prescription pill addiction without addiction treatment can result in a host of adverse complications including overdose, incarceration, broken relationships, legal problems, failing physical health, developing a co-occurring mental health disorder, financial strain, and job loss.

Our treatment team at Soba Recovery Centers across the United States is skilled in providing individualized treatment for all types of addiction. We believe addiction treatment programs must be designed to suit each person’s needs, and therefore we focus our treatments on your needs as opposed to a standard design. If you are ready to seek treatment for a prescription pill addiction, reach out to Soba Recovery Centers today.  

Heroin Addiction: Stats & Facts

heroin addiction

Heroin is an opioid drug derived from morphine. Heroin is sometimes called by other names, including smack, hell dust, and big H. Heroin can be either a white or brown powder or a black and sticky tar-like substance known as black tar heroin. Heroin is used in a variety of ways, including injection, smoking, and snorting. In some cases, people mix heroin with crack cocaine to form an even more potent substance. This practice is called speedballing.

Since 2007, the rate of heroin use in the United States has continued to climb. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in 2016, the most prevalent demographic for this increase is among adults ages 18-25. In direct contrast, the rate of use among teens ages 12-17 has been declining and is currently at the lowest levels since 1991. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of all opioid-related deaths involved heroin leading to the deaths of almost 15,000 Americans in 2018-that’s approximately 130 people per day!

Death from opioid use is preventable with proper heroin addiction treatment ; however, many who need heroin addiction rehab either do not seek it or cannot get it. 

What Are the Effects of Heroin?

Heroin use has many short and long-term effects on the body and brain. Initially, heroin enters the brain and attaches to the cells responsible for feelings of pain and pleasure. It also impacts the brain’s areas responsible for essential life-sustaining functions, including heart rate, breathing, and sleeping.

In the short-term, heroin use can result in “rush” (feelings of pleasure and happiness). Despite pleasurable effects in the short-term, heroin can also result in nausea, vomiting, itching, dry mouth, and hot flashes. Long term effects of heroin include a wide range of medical difficulties, including liver and kidney disease, lung complications, mental disorders, and sexual dysfunction, among others.

How to Recognize Heroin Addiction

Heroin is highly addictive, and those who regularly use it generally develop a tolerance that requires higher and more frequent doses to get the desired effects. Those who are addicted to heroin often exhibit changes in mood and behavior. Also, there are physical signs to look for, which may indicate a heroin addiction.

Behavior Changes

Heroin addiction can result in significant changes in behavior. Individuals may distance themselves from friends, family, and other members of their social circle. Also, they may exhibit a decline in academic or professional performance. 

Physical Changes

Heroin use, whether short or long-term, can cause difficulty breathing, weight loss, and various other physical changes in the body. Heroin can also cause extended periods of drowsiness, a sudden reduction in energy, and a lack of muscle coordination.

Drug Paraphernalia and Needle Marks 

Heroin can be consumed in a variety of ways, including injection and snorting. Someone who is struggling with a heroin addiction may have visible puncture marks on their arms or other places in their bodies. As the arms have become the most common place people look, some long-term users have resorted to injecting in different places on the body, including between the toes, the thighs, or the ankles. 

Injection is the most common way of taking heroin, so someone who has syringes without a valid medical reason could potentially be using heroin or another injectable drug. For powdered heroin to be made injectable, it must be made into a liquid, so the presence of filters, a lighter or candle, and burned or charred spoons may also be indicative of a problem if they are found in conjunction with other indicators of heroin addiction. 

Heroin Addiction Treatment and Rehab

A wide range of heroin addiction treatments, including medications and behavioral therapies, have been proven effective in helping people overcome heroin addiction. For treatment to be the most successful, treatment plans must be individualized to meet each patient’s needs.  

The initial withdrawal stages from opioid addiction, including heroin addiction, can bring about intense and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Thus, it is essential to undergo detox (sometimes also called medically assisted detox) at a heroin addiction (rehab) treatment center where trained medical professionals can closely monitor the initial stages of detox and ongoing treatment.  

Once the body has cleansed itself of heroin, it is possible to begin an intensive treatment program. Addiction treatment programs must be individually designed to achieve the best results. Through a combination of behavioral therapy, counseling, and a focus on developing new and healthy lifestyle skills, sobriety is possible. 

Beat a Heroin Addiction With Soba Recovery Center

Our renowned treatment team at Soba Recovery Center is highly trained to provide individual, one-on-one therapy designed to treat all aspects of addiction. We believe the key to addiction treatment’s success is to provide individualized care from the beginning of your journey through to sober living options we provide for our alumni. If you are ready to seek heroin addiction treatment, reach out to Soba Recovery Center today.