Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug abuse sometimes leads to addiction which cannot be overcome on one own. Just like users of illegal drugs, people who are addicted to prescription medications have an altered brain function and physical dependence. This forces them to continue to abuse prescription drugs despite the fact that they know that they are harming themselves and often also their loved ones.

Prescription drug addiction is often recognized by the doctor before it gets too severe because it typically involves taking higher doses than prescribed. A person who is addicted to prescription medications therefore frequently calls for refills, often “loses prescriptions”, or even steals or forges them. However, many seek prescriptions at other doctors especially when their primary doctors becomes suspicious, while some also take advantage of online pharmacies which do not always ask for a doctor’s prescription. Prescription drug addiction can therefore go unnoticed until it gets serious because most people who have a problem with any kind of addiction refuse to acknowledge it when confronted.

Like every other type of addiction, prescription drug addiction has a devastating effect on both the mind and the body. When a person is addicted, he or she cannot function without the addictive substance which, however, often affects the person’s ability to work or study as well as the relationship with other people. Prolonged use of prescription drugs in high doses also increases the risk of potentially serious and sometimes even life-threatening side effects and complications. Prescription drug addiction usually also involves physical dependence which causes withdrawal symptoms if suddenly stopping to take the drugs. Furthermore, a sudden withdrawal after a prolonged period of abuse can lead to potentially fatal complications.

Prescription drug addiction can be overcome only with professional help and medical supervision. Treatment of prescription drug addiction depends on the type of medications that are abused but it usually involves medications to control the underlying condition, to relieve withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of potentially dangerous complications. Treatment typically also includes behavioural therapy and counselling to help the patient accept the problem and learn how to reduce the risk of its recurrence in the future. Severest cases of prescription drug addiction may also require hospitalisation.

Like other forms of addiction, prescription drug addiction is treated a lot easier if the person receives medical help early. For that reason people who live with a person who is taking potentially addictive medications should pay attention to changes which may signal a problem with abuse or addiction because the loved ones are usually the first to notice that something is wrong. However, it is highly important to be patient and understanding because people who have a problem with prescription drug addiction typically deny having a problem and refuse to seek professional help. If the condition is serious and the person refuses to seek help, it is best to turn to the person’s doctor for help.