America’s drug problem doesn’t just center around illegal substances anymore. A growing new breed of addicts is turning to the medicine cabinet to get high.
For years, we talked about drug abuse dangers and warned kids about scary dealers or peer pressure from friends to try illegal substances. Musicians and others seemed to glorify drug use, and parents worked hard to keep their progeny away from “bad influences.”
Ironically, while we were trying so hard to fight against the abuse of illegal substances like heroin, meth or cocaine, a new threat began to gain popularity at an alarming rate. Healthcentral.com reports that recent studies show prescription drugs are now the second most commonly abused type of drug in the United States. The over-prescribing of narcotic painkillers, sedatives and stimulants is partly to blame for this epidemic, along with the rise of Internet pharmacies, making it easy to score meds anonymously without being under the watchful eye of your local doctor.
So how can you tell when prescription drug use has crossed the line from “use” to “abuse”?
When you find you need to take more of a medication to achieve the same level of sleep, pain relief or alertness, you have developed what experts call a “tolerance” to that drug. Tolerance is a sign that your body is becoming physically dependent on the medication. This is not the same as being addicted to a prescription drug, but it can be a warning sign that you are taking too much.
It’s a short trip from tolerance to physical dependence. Once your body becomes physically dependent on a medication, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, making it very difficult or uncomfortable to stop taking the drug. The side effects of withdrawal can be so strong – ranging from insomnia, nausea and anxiety to depression, sweating and shaking -- that many individuals are unable to stop taking a drug without medical supervision.
Remember, these powerful medications are prescribed to help individuals reclaim their lives and health, not to create new medical issues. If you begin planning activities around the times you take your medications or miss important events because of your prescription drug use, it's a clear warning sign that the original purpose for taking the medicine is being overshadowed. Taking more than is prescribed is another classic sign that you're losing control.
As the prescription addiction continues to grow, you find that instead of feeling better on the medication, you’re feeling worse, possibly experiencing mood swings, relationship problems, blackouts or even paranoia. Despite these negative consequences, you keep using. You may also get desperate enough to start asking for prescription meds from friends and relatives, falsifying prescriptions or even stealing to pay for meds. If you recognize these behaviors in yourself or a loved one, there’s no shame in reaching out for help.
Prescription Drug Addiction Help at The Canyon
If you or someone you love needs help with prescription drug addiction, call The Canyon at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.