More than 6 million Americans have used them recreationally just in the last month. As Americans, we make up only 5% of the world’s population. However, we are using 75% of the world’s prescription drugs. It’s clear to see that a prescription sickness is alive and well in this country.
How does something of this proportion happen? Why are people so attracted to taking prescription painkillers? Well, for one thing they are everywhere. In 2010 alone there were enough medications prescribed to dose every American adult every 4 hours for an entire month. In addition, prescription painkiller overdoses have risen 200% since 2010 and 9 times out of 10 the patient is prescribed more pills after their overdose.
The people prescribed the meds aren’t the only ones affected by addiction either. No matter whether the prescription was personally prescribed or not, millions of Americans just keep getting their hands on them.
The fact of the matter is, young to middle aged adults are not the only age group affected by prescription addiction. A person of any age is vulnerable to painkiller abuse. Elderly patients are often prescribed prescription medications due to chronic illnesses that cause severe pain. As a result, studies show that about 15% of elderly patients seeking medical attention are also addicted to prescription pain medications, which in turn results in many serious injuries inside the home. 62% of teens that abuse prescriptions said they use them because the pills are easy to take from their parent’s medicine cabinets. 35% of those teens also said they believe prescription medications are safer to take than recreational drugs.
How to Recognize an Addiction to Painkillers
Someone who has just begun taking a prescription for painkillers may get dizzy, itchy, and nauseous from the effects of the drug. Yet, as time goes on, an addicted person will have to start taking more pills in order to receive the same effect. So, consistent behavior that includes these symptoms is a definite red flag for abuse.
A constant appearance of drowsiness is another big tip when checking for opioid abuse. The person may want to nod off after taking their prescription. Opioids behave similarly to heroin in the way they affect the body. Even though it gives the appearance of sleeping, the person may still be trying to have a conversation or do day to day activities while the drugs are in effect, which of course is dangerous for themselves and those around them.
Lastly, severe and sudden depression, apathy, or mood swings could be a serious indicator of prescription addiction. Since the effect of opioids is so strong, it is hard for someone with an addiction to maintain friendships and relationships. An individual may become isolated in order to maintain their addiction, which often affects their emotional and mental state.
Regularly, a person taken by addiction will begin to lose interest in all the things they previously enjoyed. An addicted individual may also begin to have abrupt mood swings or even become violent when they do not have access to their prescription or run out of pills before the prescription can be renewed.
Knowing How to Safely Stop & What is the Best Method?
Many folks need professional assistance for both detox and rehabilitation from prescription addiction. It is always a smart idea to get information from a professional including your doctor when deciding to kick the habit. If the pills are part of a personal prescription, speak with your doctor about alternative, non-addictive medications that can be substituted.
Any detox method works better than no method (as long as you are safe). Tapering, quitting, and replacement therapy are all viable means to an end. Again, before you decide on any one method, please check with a medically trained professional on the best method for you. The rest of the process just depends on your preference.
The tapering method involves slowly lowering the amount of medication being consumed. However, someone who has built up quite a tolerance to the drug may have a difficult time with this process. Withdrawal effects are not only felt when the drug is completely removed from the system but also when the regular dosage is not met. Although, this may cause less of a shock to the body than other methods.
Quitting “cold-turkey” can be extremely hard on an addicted body. Rarely do people have fatal symptoms when completely removing a drug from their body, but the effects will be severe. Headaches, cramping, sweating, vomiting, and possibly seizures can accompany any quick detox. Having access to a medical facility and medical supervision during the detox process is always recommended.
In spite of the fact that replacement drugs, such as methadone, have been administered for over 40 years as a treatment for opioid addiction, this method still runs the risk of addiction. Folks who try this method will eventually move to a lower dosage, but many who try this method just end up using other drugs in addition to the replacement drug anyway. Instead, many victims of addiction are trying natural pain relieving methods as a replacement.
Certain herbal supplements, like magnesium, vitamin B, zinc, and ginseng have been proven to help boost energy levels, flush out toxins from the liver and other organs, and help the body recover from the abuse it has endured. Holistic treatment centers offer natural options instead of flooding the system with more drugs. Some of these centers also practice methods such as yoga, art therapy, acupuncture, and massage in addition to the other elements of a healthy rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, addiction does not discriminate. Any person anywhere is susceptible to drug addiction and it is clear that the US has a significant reliance on painkillers. If you or a loved one are concerned about breaking an addiction to prescription medication just know that there is always support available no matter what the situation. There are countless support groups available online and locally to aid in you or your loved one’s sobriety. No life is worth being lost to addiction.