The stereotype of a drug addict is some hollow cheeked, ratty looking individual loitering around on street corners and lying, cheating and stealing their way to the next score, this is a person whose consequences are plain to see, so stark that they almost form a map on their faces. Their rap sheet is prolific, they maxed out any credit way back at the start of their using and are frequent visitors to the emergency room. These guys are the lucky ones, these guys are the ones who get gifted a great big slice of desperation and therefore in many ways have a much easier time finding their way into recovery.
Prescription drug users, on the other hand, are served up their nectar from the clean clinical rooms of the GP’s surgery or the hospital and receive them, not in some saliva coated plastic bag from the mouth of some scally but from the nicely manicured hands of their friendly local pharmacist. There are none of the associated stigmas of the renegade street drugs like meth and heroin and none of the legal or technicolour consequences. Of course there are those addicted to prescription meds that score them from the street or swap them for other things but the justifications look pretty similar: ‘I’m not as bad as the guy who sticks needles in his arms, the stuff I do comes in a nice little official looking blister pack so it must be safe and I need it to be ok’. But don’t be fooled, addiction to mind and mood altering substances always has penalties however subtle and insidious.
Addictive Prescription Drugs Categories
When we talk about potentially addictive prescription drugs they tend to fall into 4 main categories:
- Opiate painkillers, for example OxyContin, Tramadol and Vicodin.
- Benzodiazepines, for example Xanax and Valium.
- Stimulants, for example Adderall and Ritalin.
- Antipsychotics, for example Seroquel and Zyprexa.
Physically, and without going into the complicated chemistry of each substance, these act on the brain in exactly the same way that illegal drugs do. These foreign chemicals essentially change the brains structure and function in just the same ways the jailbait narcotics do and subsequently can result in dependence and physical withdrawal when these drugs are stopped. Obsession compulsion and self-centred fear run the show.
Addiction is more complicated than just the science of how the molecules react within the brain. It is also an emotional, social, mental and spiritual disorder…. a disease of perception and of disconnection with yourself and the world around you. Addiction is an all-inclusive deal and doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter what your background is, if you are rich or whether you get your tickle in the pharmacy or buy it through a letter box in some dodgy ghetto.
The Dangers of Prescription Drugs
The dangers of prescription drugs is not a new problem, the Rolling Stones doffed their weird selection of rock and roll hats to it in their 1966 song ‘Mothers Little Helper’ which chimes through the folksy refrain, ‘and though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill’, directly commenting on the trend of quack’s prescribing Valium to housewives during this time.
And even today with all the research and experience we have, many experts like J. Wesley Boyd, MD, PhD author of ‘Almost Addicted’, still feels that pain relief and anti-anxiety medication is over prescribed. In fact science recognises the difficulties doctors have with this and develop tests so they can fully assess the risk of addiction for their patient by taking into account genetic as well as behavioural factors because patients can lie.
This issue has changed shape since the yellow pill fetish of days gone by, with many younger people preferring these pharmaceuticals to the more traditional badass illegal drugs. Perhaps they feel safer, the high is more guaranteed and the product is not so likely to be cut with anything from Vitamin C powder to drain cleaner. Many young adults state that they take these drugs to feel better, to deal with stress, to be able to study and to relax.
Monitoring the Future, a survey commissioned by the American National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that in 2014 there were 1,741 fatal overdoses due to prescription drugs among young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. This is a fourfold increase in the number of deaths since 1999 and roughly works out that 5 people a day lose their lives to an overdose from prescription meds. These are some pretty shocking statistics.
For those who are already in recovery who suffer injury or illness, having to take prescription medication opens up a whole can of worms. Being utterly transparent with your attending physician about your history, staying accountable to somebody else in recovery and checking in with your motivations are essential.
An increasing amount of people are seeking professional help for addiction to prescription medications, even when the path towards this problem has been paved with legitimate medical concerns.
So, if you or somebody you know has a problem with prescription medication and want to do something about it why not give one of our addiction experts at Seasons Luxury rehab a call for a FREE, no obligation consultation.