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Prescription Drugs

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One of the biggest problems in the substance abuse community over the last few years has been with prescription drug addiction. For a number of reasons, the abuse and potential of addiction has risen sharply, and prescription medications are even being toted as the new gateway drug of choice among young people. Here are some of the reasons for this increase in prescription abuse and some prescription drug addiction dangers:

1) In some cases, drug companies have developed new, more powerful medications (such as in the case with Oxycontin, a highly addictive painkiller).

2) Doctors seem more and more likely to prescribe addictive medications without considering all the ramifications of doing so. They do not have time to assess the background of a patient to probe for the potential of addiction and then seek alternative medications.

3) Patients have become more educated about medications than they have been in the past and they want something that works. The expectation of increase in medical technology has given patients a sense of entitlement in terms of pain management. In other words, we feel more and more like science should be able to cure our suffering due to new technology. So we are more demanding when we feel discomfort than we were several years ago.

4) The youth of today is more informed and has more information available to them about different medications and which ones can be abused for recreation. In many cases they are simply stealing medicine out of their parent’s bathroom cabinet. Later on when they run out of the prescription, they might turn to street drugs to replace them with, such as using heroin to replace painkillers.

So addiction to prescription drugs is definitely a growing problem and now ranks right up there alongside of more traditional gateway drugs such as alcohol and marijuana.

Types of  Addiction

While there are hundreds of different medications that are potentially addictive, there are only a few major classes of drugs that encompass the overall potential. Here are some of the drugs that are the main prescription drug addiction types that are abused today:

1) Painkillers.

This is the big one as far as the numbers go, and this is where the majority of the problem lies today. Opiate based painkillers are the biggest problem by far. This is compounded when someone suffers from chronic pain in their life and really needs some sort of pain management just to get through their day. When you take them off of the opiates, their intense level of pain will often lead to relapse if they are not diligent in seeking alternatives.

2) Anxiety medications.

Some of these are no longer addictive but many of them are. This is the class of drugs known as Benzodiazepines, including drugs such as Valium and Xanax. This is a popular trap for the alcoholic because in many cases, when someone tries to quit drinking they notice that they have intense anxiety. They go to their doctor and of course in some situations the doctor will prescribe them these addictive medications. Eventually the person might end up using the medication while they are drinking, and this produces a dangerous level of drug addiction that can be very tricky to detox safely. There are new medications out there that treat anxiety without being addictive, but this class of drug is still prescribed far too often.

3) Stimulants.

Medications for some mental disorders can include stimulants such as Ritalin, which have abuse potential and can be addictive.

Of course there are other classifications of addictive drugs but these 3 cover the majority of problems. Here are some examples of prescription drug addiction signs that may be able to help you identify abuse.

A Note on Treatment

The best form of prescription drug addiction help will tend to vary, because the nature of the problem can be so different depending on circumstances. For example, it will depend on whether or not the person is obtaining their medication legally or illegally, as well as why they started taking the medication to begin with. In some cases, an addict may have sought out the medicine for recreation purposes before becoming addicted to them. At the other end of the spectrum is the innocent person who suffered an injury and their doctor put them on a powerful painkiller. Regardless of the circumstance, there will always be some sort of prescription drug addiction withdrawal symptoms due to the strength of the drugs and a person becoming dependant on them.

These different types of situations will call for a different approach to treatment.

In some cases, it may be enough to switch the medications and find alternative methods of treatment. In a case such as this it would be more likely that the person is suffering from dependence rather than full blown addiction. There are many different prescription drug addiction trends which have changed over the years as well causing different forms of treatment. Here are some prescription drug addiction statistics to help aid you in finding out more about this disease.

On the other hand, if someone is truly addicted to their medication in a way that goes beyond mere dependency, then they will likely need to follow some sort of program after they are detoxed from the medicine so that they can remain clean. In this case, the most popular form of treatment will be admittance to a drug rehab facility, where they can be properly detoxed from the drugs and start to learn how they can live a drug free life.


Rehab International is a service provided by Foundations Recovery Network. As part of the Foundations Recovery Network, our goal is to provide science-based treatments to individuals suffering from issues of addiction and mental illness.

When you call you will be connected to a member of the Foundations Recovery Network who will assist in providing you with any questions you may have regarding the treatment process.

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