Prescription Drug Rehab for Women
Are you in need of prescription drug rehab? We are so glad you found us. Our highly skilled clinical team will help you to unravel the psychological dependence on prescriptions and explore the underlying issues that drove addictive use. We will work with you to help you acquire new skills and access your true inner strength. Through consistency and compassion, we will provide the environment needed for you to feel safe and truly begin to develop an authentic sense of well-being. We know the process is painful, and we are here to let you know that you are not alone as you begin your journey of recovery.
What is prescription drug addiction?
Prescription drug addiction is one of the leading causes of drug addiction in the United States today. More overdose deaths occur as the result of prescription drug abuse than from any other group of drugs. In the current opioid epidemic, narcotic painkillers count for the majority of drug-related deaths by a wide margin, but they are not the only prescriptions that are commonly abused. Benzodiazepines (and other sedatives,) muscle relaxers, some sleep medications, and prescription stimulants are also drugs with abuse potential.
Prescription pill abuse does not discriminate along socio-economic, race, gender, or age lines. Because most addictions begin with legitimate prescriptions, the progression from indicated pharmaceutical use to abuse could happen to virtually anybody. Unfortunately, as the addictive use progresses, it becomes almost impossible to sustain the habit through authentic prescriptions. Many pill users find themselves eventually seeking their supply on the streets or transitioning to illegal drugs.
Prescriptions that are commonly abused fall into different classifications based on their pharmaceutical purpose. The most commonly abused prescriptions are:
This is a classification of narcotics used for pain relief in which either natural or synthetic substances work on the central nervous system by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors. Withdrawal from opioids is uncomfortable but generally not life-threatening. Consultation with a medical professional can help determine if medically assisted treatment could be helpful for you. Common opioid prescriptions include:
- codeine (only available in generic form, or as Tylenol with Codeine)
- fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, Abstral, Onsolis)
- hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER)
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- meperidine (Demerol)
- methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
- morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
- oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxaydo)
- oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
This is a classification of minor tranquilizers that are often used to treat anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and other disorders by promoting down-regulation in the central nervous system. Acute withdrawal from benzodiazepines should ALWAYS be done with medical supervision. Sudden withdrawal from these medications can be potentially life-threatening. There are dozens of generic and brand names for various benzodiazepines but the most commonly abused are:
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- diazepam (Valium)
- flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
There is another category of drugs known as “Z-Drugs” that act on the same receptors as benzodiazepines but are chemically different. These include sleep medications such as Zolpidem (Ambien). Ambien is a drug with abuse potential and potentially damaging effects when misused.
This is a classification of drugs that work on the central nervous system to enhance alertness, attention, and focus. Stimulants can be prescribed to treat ADD, ADHD, sleep disorders like narcolepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, or other disorders. Common stimulant medications include:
- dextroamphetamine (Dexadrine)
- dextroamphetamine/amphetamine (Adderall)
- methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
When discussing pill addiction, there is a predictable pattern of progression that happens as the prescriptions take a stronger and stronger hold of a person’s life. This progression normally looks like USE -> MISUSE -> ABUSE -> ADDICTION.
Use is taking the medication as prescribed in keeping with the physician’s recommendations and dosages.
Misuse happens when a person starts altering the frequency, quantity, or purposes for which they are taking their medication. A person might begin this path by taking their medications closer together than prescribed, or by taking an extra tablet here and there. A common scenario might look something like this: Jane is prescribed a benzodiazepine, and, on the label, the doctor has indicated “take one as needed at the onset of a panic attack.” Jane follows the instructions for some time, but then begins to anticipate that certain situations may cause a panic attack. She starts taking her pills preemptively. Soon, if she knows that she will be in any stressful situation, she takes a pill. Before long, Jane is taking a pill any time she believes she just needs to “relax.” Jane is now definitely misusing her prescription, but the process happened gradually and each step made sense to her at the time.
Somebody who is misusing their prescription may also stop heeding the warning indications on the bottle. For example, if a sedative gives a pleasurable effect, a person might seek to intensify that effect by combining it with alcohol – even though that is contraindicated on the label. Going against the label warnings – particularly when combining alcohol with prescriptions or driving under the influence of certain prescriptions – put the user at a very high risk for toxicity (including overdose) and accidents that can be potentially fatal. Misuse also involves using the prescription for purposes other than the medical recommendation. For example, a person might be prescribed a stimulant for ADHD, but finds themselves taking an extra dose before a big meal because it has a side effect of appetite suppression.
Abuse happens when misuse is left unchecked and progresses into more destructive habits. People who abuse prescription pills might find themselves manipulating the health care system to continue gaining access to their prescriptions. By this time, the characteristics of dependence have likely developed, namely withdrawal and tolerance.
At this point, the person is unable to sustain their habit through their normal doctor-issued prescriptions, and they may begin seeing multiple doctors to maintain usage levels. This is commonly referred to as “doctor shopping.” A person abusing pills may find themselves exaggerating or falsifying their symptoms to continue gaining access to their medications or to increase dosages. The person may come up with fabricated stories about their prescription being stolen or lost in order to obtain a new supply. People might also begin looking for unscrupulous mail-order pharmacies online or taking medications from other people. Unfortunately, many people who reach this point of progression ultimately find that is easier and more affordable to replace their prescriptions with illegal drugs of similar effect.
Cross-addiction happens when a drug-abuser progresses from one substance to another. When a user goes from a pharmaceutical medication with a known set of controlled ingredients to a street drug of unpredictable intensity, the likelihood for overdose is very high. The problem is that the body recognizes these substances as being similar and the same tolerances will still apply to the new drug as applied to the prescription. It will take an opioid pill abuser a much higher dosage of heroin to obtain effect than a first-time heroin user. The same holds true for crossover between prescription and illegal stimulants.
Addiction is characterized by the life-damaging consequences that ensue as the destructive habit progresses. Those addicted to pills may experience a diminished quality of life, and ultimately, they begin to suffer psychologically, physically, financially, socially, and even legally. Addiction often persists because the normal withdrawal symptoms that the addict feels are interpreted as proof that they “need” their medication. The pill user justifies continued use with the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. To the user, this is not purposeful manipulation – they believe the medication is required to make them “feel normal” – and to some degree, this is true, because without it, they will experience painful withdrawal. As the addiction progresses, a person might find themselves crossing over to street drugs, forging prescriptions, stealing to support their addiction, fabricating or creating injuries for emergency room visits that warrant medications, and/or using alternate routes of administration to intensify the effect such as injecting or crushing and snorting pills. Pill users often have developed a wealth of knowledge about medical/psychiatric disorders and pharmaceutical medications, yet the overdose rate remains very high. Users may miscalculate their tolerance and accidentally overdose, or the circumstances of their lives have become so overwhelming and despairing that they purposefully take a lethal dose. Fortunately, prescription abuse has gained much national attention, fueling new research and the development empirically supported treatments.
How Our Prescription Drug Rehab Program Can Help
At Haven Hills Recovery, we know that detoxing and eliminating prescription pill use is just the first step. We also know that for prescription drug rehab to be truly effective, we must work to uncover the issues that are driving the addictive behaviors. When we uncover the underlying issues and begin the healing process, we begin to see true change.