When thinking about the word ‘addiction’, your thoughts might automatically turn to substances such as heroin, cocaine, or crystal meth. After all, these are the substances that most people associate with addiction. They do not think of prescription medication that is taken to treat genuine medical conditions such as chronic pain, sleep disorders or hyperactivity. However, these medications are highly addictive and a growing number of individuals in the UK are affected and now find themselves wondering how to beat a prescription drug addiction.
The number of those entering drug rehab centres for addictions to prescription medication is rising every year, and more needs to be done to educate people on the dangers of these substances.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
There is a genuine lack of awareness surrounding the dangers of prescription drugs here in the United Kingdom. Most people who take them for legitimate medical conditions are convinced that these are completely safe – after all, a doctor would not prescribe anything that could be dangerous, right?
What most do not realise is that prescription medication is indeed harmful when abused, and because of the highly addictive nature of these drugs, any form of abuse can lead to a crippling dependence. You will only be give these drugs if a doctor deems them completely necessary. In saying that, prescription drugs should only be taken over a short period of time and only exactly as directed.
Unfortunately, many people do not fully comprehend the risks of becoming addicted to prescription medication and therefore fail to understand what constitutes prescription drug abuse. Taking more of the medication than advised to by your doctor is abuse. This includes taking higher doses than prescribed or taking the medication at increasingly frequent intervals.
Prescription drug abuse also includes taking medication that was prescribed for another person, which often happens. Many people do not realise the dangers of giving prescribed medication to a family member or friend who they believe to be in need of strong pain medication.
The problem with this is that a doctor needs to take many things into consideration before prescribing any medication. This includes the overall health of the individual, whether he or she is allergic to any ingredients, and whether he or she is taking any other medication that could interact with it.
There are others who take prescription medication for recreational purposes. Many young people have come to the realisation that these drugs can be used for getting high. Moreover, because these are, in their eyes, ‘legal’, they usually do not see a problem with them.
Nevertheless, these drugs are now being sold on the streets and synthetic opioids are becoming increasingly popular. According to the European Drug Report:
“With only small volumes needed to produce many thousands of street doses, new synthetic opioids are easy to conceal and transport, posing a challenge for drug control agencies and a potentially attractive commodity for organised crime.”
How Does Prescription Drug Addiction Start?
What many individuals do not realise is that addiction to prescription drugs can occur even in those who have taken their medication exactly as prescribed – if they take them long-term. The nature of these drugs is that they are highly addictive, and the body tends to develop a tolerance to them quite quickly.
Once a tolerance builds up, the individual might feel as though his or her pills are ‘not working’ anymore. It is common for users to then increase their dosage to get the results they desire. Nevertheless, upping the dosage without instructions from a fully qualified medical professional is dangerous.
Feeding your body with prescription drugs can lead to a physical dependence. The chemicals in the drugs affect the brain’s pleasure centre and hijack the reward system. It can also affect your ability to think clearly and logically.
Whenever the effects of the pills wear off, your body will then crave them. But because your brain has been negatively affected and maybe even structurally altered, you might find that you continue to abuse these drugs even when aware that doing so will cause harm.
It might be at this point that you realise you have a problem and you start to wonder how to beat a prescription drug addiction. Perhaps you may still be convinced that you do not have a problem at all and that others are exaggerating?
Do You Have a Prescription Drug Addiction?
Coming to terms with the fact that you may have an addiction is never easy. It is often harder to accept when the substance being abused is one that you were advised to take by a doctor. You might not even want to entertain the idea of being classed as an addict or having to get professional help in a detox or rehab centre.
This is completely understandable, but you should know that you are not alone. Prescription drug addiction is a very real problem and one that is affecting the lives of countless individuals across the country. You should also know that without help, your current situation is likely to get worse.
There is a lot of stigma attached to addiction and it can lead those affected feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Many are worried about what others will think and as such would rather pretend that nothing is wrong and hope that their situation will somehow rectify itself. Unfortunately, this will not happen.
You need to remember that addiction is nothing to be ashamed of; it is an illness of the brain and you are not to blame for having it. If you are worried that you are affected, it is better to reach out for help as soon as you can. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can turn your life around.
If you are feeling irritable or edgy at the thoughts of your prescription running out, you may already have a problem. If you find that you have been unable to take care of your responsibilities at work or at home because you are under the influence of your medication or are suffering the after effects of it, then it is time to seek help. This is especially so if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, mood swings and vomiting when the effects of your drugs wear off.
How to Beat Prescription Drug Addiction for Good
Getting help for your illness is the best thing you can do right now. Addiction is a progressive illness that will continually worsen if left untreated. Your dependence on the medication may already have started to affect many areas of your life including your health, relationships, and finances. However, if you fail to get treatment and continue as you are, these problems will probably get much worse.
The good news is that help is available. Here at Primrose Lodge, we are already helping many people to overcome their reliance on prescription drugs and we can help you too. You do not have to continue living as you are when there is help that you can access quickly and easily.
If you are physically dependent on prescription drugs, you will more than likely need to complete a detox where you will quit all chemical substances and wait while your body attempts to heal itself. As it does this, you are likely to experience a number of withdrawal symptoms.
The symptoms you experience and how severe these will be depend on your overall health, your age, the type of drug you have been abusing and how long you have been using for. Symptoms will range from mild to severe and can include:
- high blood pressure
- raised temperature
- rapid pulse
To ensure your safety at all times, it is best to detox in a supervised clinic, particularly if you were abusing opioid medication. This is because complications can arise and so being in a facility where staff have been trained to respond to any emergency is safer for you. You will also find detoxing in a supervised facility to be more comfortable than doing so at home.
Rehabilitation for Prescription Drug Addiction
Overcoming your physical addiction to prescription drugs is just the beginning. If you have been thinking about how to beat a prescription drug addiction, you should know that it is a three-stage process. Detoxification aims to deal with the physical element of the illness and should be followed up with rehabilitation and aftercare. Rehab is used to help deal with the emotional issues relating to the illness and aftercare is required for maintenance of sobriety.
When it comes to rehab for prescription drug addiction, you will have the choice of recovering using an outpatient programme or moving from your home to a residential facility for a period of up to twelve weeks. The choice of programme will depend on how severe your addiction is and how quickly you want to overcome your illness.
If your addiction is quite severe, you may struggle to stay sober in the real world and might benefit from the distraction-free environment of a residential clinic. On the other hand, you could have commitments at home or at work that would prevent you from accessing such a programme. It will therefore be necessary in this situation to assess your needs and circumstances before making your choice.
Rehab programmes are provided by charities, private clinics, and the NHS. The NHS and charity organisations tend to specialise in outpatient programmes but due to the severe demands placed on them for treatment. On top of this, the fact that they are severely underfunded means there tends to be waiting lists for new cases.
Residential programmes are typically the remit of the private clinic and those who wish to access immediate treatment for their addiction usually to go down this route. Many believe that paying for treatment is preferable to waiting for a place while struggling with negative thoughts and addictive behaviours.
What Happens in Rehabilitation?
If you want to know how to beat prescription drug addiction for good, you will be aware that you probably need a detox, followed by a programme of rehabilitation. You might then be wondering what happens in rehab?
Whether you choose an inpatient or outpatient facility, the aim will be the same; to help you overcome the issues that caused your addiction in the first place. Quitting the chemical substance is the first part of the process but detox only addresses they physical addiction. To fully overcome your addiction, you must also tackle the emotional element of the illness.
With a programme of rehabilitation, you will work with counsellors, doctors, and therapists to get to the root cause of your illness. This may involve delving deep into your past to uncover memories that you had buried long ago, and it can end up being an emotional process.
Staff at rehab clinics use a variety of psychotherapeutic treatments to help you deal with the issues that led you to this point. You will almost certainly be given a specific programme of treatment that has been created with your needs and circumstances in mind.
It is likely that this treatment plan will include elements of both individual counselling and group therapy. You may also notice that other therapies will also be included; these are known as holistic therapies and are used to treat the mind, body, and spirit, rather than just the illness itself.
Combining traditional and holistic therapies will give you a greater chance of overcoming your addiction once and for all. Holistic therapies might include yoga, sports therapy, music therapy, massage, and mindfulness.
You will also learn relapse prevention techniques that you can take with you when you return to normal everyday living. You might learn how to challenge any negative thoughts or feelings you have and how you can act on them in a positive manner.
If you would like more information on how to beat prescription drug addiction, please get in touch with us today. We will provide helpful advice and information about our programmes. We can also answer your questions, giving you the ability to make an informed choice about a treatment programme should you need one.