What Is Prescription Drug Dependence?
According to Harvard Health, “drug dependence, which can be psychological or physical, is an uncontrollable desire to experience the pleasurable effects of a drug or to prevent the unpleasant effects of withdrawal.” There is a common misconception that prescription medications are less dangerous to abuse than illicit substances, due to the fact that they are regulated and are prescribed to provide relief from a diagnosed medical condition. However, abuse of prescription medications can be as dangerous as abusing any substance.
The Mayo Clinic asserts, “Prescription drug abuse is the use of prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor.” The most commonly abused prescription medications include the following types:
- Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives
When prescription medications are used properly they can be a highly effective component to one’s treatment plan. However, if prescription medications are abused they can lead to severe short and long-term consequences, and exponentially increase one’s risk for developing a dependence and/ or addiction.
How Are Prescription Drugs Addictive?
Habitual use of any substance, including prescription medications, can lead to increased tolerance, meaning an individual will require more of the substance (e.g. higher dosage, frequency of use, etc.) to achieve the same feeling. The purpose of prescription medications is to help one’s body reach equilibrium, and repeated abuse of these medications will result in physiological changes in one’s body. When an individual constantly abuses prescription medications, his or her body must make accommodations to properly function with the presence of the unneeded medication. When a drug that one’s body has become accustomed to functioning with is absent, or has less of the medication in his or her system, it will react accordingly and be unable to function optimally. When an individual is unable to stop using the medication without experiencing withdrawal symptoms, he or she has some level of dependence. The longer an individual that struggles with drug dependence and continues to abuse prescription medications, the greater his or her risk is for developing a full-blown addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of a Prescription Drug Dependence
The signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse will depend on the individual and the type of prescription drug being abused. The Mayo Clinic provides examples of signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse that are categorized by the type of abused medication, some of which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Slowed breathing rate
- Hyperalgesia: worsening or increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses
- Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives
- Unsteady walking
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Slowed breathing
- Memory problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased alertness
- High body temperature
- Reduced appetite
- High blood pressure
Additional signs and symptoms that could manifest from prescription drug abuse, regardless of the type, could include: excessive mood swings, poor decision-making, changes in sleep patterns (e.g. increase or decrease in sleep), and/ or doctor shopping (e.g. seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor). Every person is different and has the propensity to exhibit a unique combination of signs and symptoms with varying levels of severity when it comes to prescription drug abuse.
The Treatment Process
The first step in one’s recovery process for prescription drug dependence is to fully rid one’s body of all medications and foreign substances. This accomplished through the detox process. Due to the possibility of dangerous side effects manifesting during this process it is encouraged to undergo a medically supervised detox. This enables twenty-four hour monitoring and when needed, medical assistance to help with alleviating some of the discomforts of the detox process and provide ample support in managing adverse withdrawal symptoms. After the completion it is imperative to continue with one’s recovery by attending a formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program.
Why Choose Annandale in Pasadena?
Annandale Behavioral Health is a private wellness center located in the beautiful hills of Pasadena, CA. Our center provides the ideal environment for guests to reconnect with nature while receiving premium and personalized treatment. At Annandale, we honor each person’s individuality and have a core belief that everyone is capable of achieving true wellness. We understand that in order to heal, every person in recovery deeply benefits from a customized and tailored treatment plan, which we carefully develop for each of our guests. Our multidisciplinary clinical team is made up of highly regarded psychiatrists, physicians, therapists, nursing, and support staff.
Annandale Behavioral Health offers a full continuum of care, including medically supervised detox, stabilization, residential treatment, and aftercare services. We are here to support you every step of the way to help you learn how to lead a healthy, authentic, and fulfilling life that both promotes and supports true wellness.
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding substance abuse, addiction, mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about our program here at Annandale Behavioral Health. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to help you or your loved one in the recovery process. Feel free to reach us by phone at 855-778-8668 or through our contact form. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.