Pile of various prescription pills

Prescription Drug Abuse & Addiction: Signs & Treatment Options

Prescription drug addiction can take over your life and cause painful relationship rifts, employment loss and grave physical problems. Most devastating of all, prescription drug abuse kills more Americans each year than illicit drug overdoses.

Abuse and addiction can exist outside of one another, but they often occur together. Abuse is when you use a prescription drug non-medically or differently than your doctor instructed. Addiction, on the other hand, is when you have an uncontrollable craving for a drug, which dictates your everyday behavior.

Though there is a difference between drug abuse and drug addiction, the consequences do not discriminate — overdose can occur on your first or thousandth time abusing a prescription drug. No matter your level of abuse, it is crucial that you seek help as soon as possible.

How Prescription Drug Abuse Affects the Body

Prescription drug abuse can cause a litany of physical and psychological problems, including addiction disease. Here are just a few of the many ways that prescription drug abuse impacts the body:

  • Damage to organs, including heart, lungs, kidneys and liver
  • Coma
  • Breathing problems
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Overheating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental confusion

The “highs” obtained from prescription drug abuse vary from substance to substance. However, all of the most commonly misused prescription drugs have one thing in common: their abuse can cause death.

They are especially lethal when combined with other substances — illicit or legal. For example, Hollywood superstar Heath Ledger died due to a combination of prescription drugs, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Opioids – Opioid painkillers — chemical relatives of heroin — are frequently abused due to the powerful effect they have on the brain’s reward receptors. Abuse of opioids like Vicodin can cause significant problems, such as slowed breathing, coma and addiction. Additionally, opioid overdose carries an exceptionally high risk of death — each day, 78 Americans die from a prescription drug overdose on opioids.

Commonly abused prescription opioids (also called opiates) include:

  • OxyContin, Percocet (oxycodone)
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • MS Contin (morphine)
  • Methadose (methadone)
  • Some forms of Tylenol (codeine)

Sedatives – Abuse of sedatives like Xanax can cause problems that range from memory problems to suicidal ideation to coma and death. People who suddenly quit these drugs may experience severe prescription drug withdrawal symptoms such as seizures. It’s especially important to detox from sedatives under close medical supervision in a credentialed treatment facility.

Commonly abused prescription sedatives include:

  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)

Stimulants – Abuse of stimulants like Adderall can cause emotional damage such as anxiety and paranoia as well as bodily harm such as heart problems and critical overheating — a consequence that can lead to death.

Commonly abused prescription stimulants include:

  • Adderall (amphetamines)
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Cafergot (caffeine)
  • Bronkaid (ephedrine)

What Are the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse?

Although each prescription drug has unique side effects and signs of abuse, some signs present across the board. If you notice any of the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you may be suffering from prescription drug abuse or addiction:

  • Mood swings or changes in personality
  • Urgent desire to use the substance
  • Inability to feel normal without the substance
  • Stealing or forging prescriptions
  • Visiting multiple doctors to get more prescriptions
  • Feeling or appearing “high”
  • Increase or decrease in energy
  • Taking higher doses than usual or prescribed

Any combination of the above symptoms merits a closer look. If you notice that you’ve experienced some of these signs or have seen them in a loved one, consider speaking with an addiction professional about the situation.

How Bad Is Prescription Drug Addiction in Washington State?

Washington is suffering from a prescription drug abuse epidemic. In fact, prescription drug misuse kills more Washingtonians each year than heroin, meth and cocaine combined.

In 2016, The Seattle Times reported opioid overdoses were deadlier than auto accidents across the nation. And although heroin deaths are increasing in the Seattle region, they remain less common than prescription opioid deaths.

Fortunately, there are excellent addiction treatment centers in Washington State. At The Recovery Village Ridgefield, we dedicate our days to helping you climb out of the mire of addiction. We want you to experience the joy and freedom of recovery.

How Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment in Washington Can Help

If you have been suffering in the clutches of addiction, know that you are never alone. In fact, many of us at The Recovery Village Ridgefield have been through addiction and are in recovery ourselves. We know the pain of strained relationships and the panic of losing control. But we also know that no matter what you are going through, there is hope for recovery.

We provide holistic alcohol and drug rehab in Washington State, and often treat people who are suffering from the medical disease that is prescription drug addiction. We’re tucked into the mountains but are not far from Seattle or Vancouver, WA. Drug treatment doesn’t have to take you far from home, though sometimes it can be a relief to recover in a fresh new environment. We welcome you, whether you are from in-state or your home is across the country.

It’s time for you to take back control of your life, and we are here to guide you through the whole process. Our compassionate addiction advisors are available to speak confidentially with you about your situation, in as much or little detail as you wish. We are here to help you change your life for good — just reach out.

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