What to do About Prescription Drug Abuse

Unlike illegal street drugs like heroin or crack, prescription drugs aren’t necessarily bad. They can be beneficial for many people who want better health. However, prescription drug abuse is a whole different story. Learn the dos and don’ts of prescription drug abuse and what to do about this serious problem.

Do – Acknowledge the Abuse Exists

Perhaps the first step in dealing with signs of painkiller addiction is acknowledging that it exists at all. Many people think that prescription drugs are less dangerous than other drugs. That is a myth since all drugs have the potential to be deadly.

Just because a doctor prescribes a medication, it doesn’t mean abuse is not an issue. Drug abuse can come in many forms.
Prescription drug abuse could mean saving doses and taking more than one at a time. This might create a bigger high or sense of pain relief, but it is dangerous. Abuse might also mean going to more than one doctor to collect medication. This is known as doctor shopping, and it is a risky form of behavior.

Prescription drug abuse may also be an issue if individuals see an increased tolerance. For example, one painkiller a day might be sufficient for months at a time. Then, as tolerance rises, that individual might need two painkillers a day. This increase in tolerance is often a sign of abuse, particularly for drugs not intended for long-term use.

Don’t – Try to Quit Cold Turkey

Once the dependence or abuse of prescription drugs is acknowledged, you may be ready to act quickly and quit altogether. While this rapid action might be positive, it can be dangerous to quit an addictive substance without professional help.

Cold turkey is the process of quitting something suddenly. Quitting a prescription medication cold turkey can cause serious symptoms. These are known as withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal is a normal and expected stage of addiction recovery. However, it can also be unpleasant. At times, it may result in severe symptoms that need emergency medical treatment. If you’re at home alone, even small problems could become serious.

A much better choice is to move forward with the help of others. Individuals struggling with prescription drug abuse need to be in a safe, secure program. In these programs, it is possible to work through detox and then rehab without the worry of an unmonitored health risk. Medical professionals are well versed in the process of addiction recovery.

Finally, keep in mind that the success of treatment is always higher when you’re not alone. If you’re trying to recover from prescription drug abuse solo, you won’t have the necessary accountability and support. In a facility, there will be 24/7 care, tools, and resources. This increases the chance of success and decreases the risk of relapse.

Do – Commit to Lifelong Sobriety

There is no quick fix for prescription drug abuse or addiction. Recovery may take some time and it will be an ongoing process. Having the right attitude about lifelong sobriety will be beneficial.

Some individuals are looking for a rapid solution with minimal effort. Unfortunately, no such option exists. The only way to enjoy recovery is to work at recovery for a lifetime.

That may start with a brief detox, but the journey won’t end there. It may take additional behavioral therapy, group therapy or family therapy. Recovery will require abstaining from similar prescription drugs in the future. Once abuse or addiction has been an issue, moderate or recreational use of prescription drugs will no longer be an option.

Don’t – Overlook the Risk of Relapse

Once you’re familiar with the process of prescription drug abuse recovery, look one step further. Relapse is a serious issue for many individuals. Even after receiving treatment, it is possible to begin abusing drugs again. Cravings and temptations can be strong.

There are a number of techniques and approaches to relapse prevention. To start, it helps to have a support system. This could include peers, group therapy participants or family members. This support system can be a source of accountability in challenging times.

Individuals can also identify their relapse triggers. Often, these include stressful situations. They can also be ordinary emotions like hunger or loneliness. Identifying the triggers, and choosing healthy coping mechanisms go a long way in preventing a relapse from taking hold.

Do – Identify the Causes of Prescription Drug Abuse

It is not enough to simply treat the symptoms of prescription drug abuse and addiction. If the root causes of the abuse aren’t acknowledged and treated, there may be a cycle of relapse ahead. There are many different factors that can contribute to substance abuse and individuals may need to identify more than one.

Prescription drug abuse can be partly caused by mental health concerns. A person struggling with depression or anxiety may be more likely to seek out prescription drugs. They may also be more likely to abuse them and struggle with dependency issues.

These issues and many others can be dealt with through varying treatment methods. Individuals might benefit from approaches like family therapy, group therapy or behavioral therapy. Addressing the root causes of substance abuse can prevent prescription drugs from becoming a problem in the future.

Don’t – Wait Another Day to Get Help

Overcoming prescription drug abuse can feel overwhelming. There are lots of treatment plans and programs available, and the choice to get started can be tough. However, the best thing a person can do is act quickly. Getting help is critical for recovery.

Every day that goes by is another opportunity for prescription drug abuse to worsen. It is another opportunity for physical and psychological symptoms to intensify. It is also another opportunity for the risk of an overdose. The only way to end all these problems at once is to seek professional help for substance abuse.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem. On an individual level, the best response is to acknowledge the problem and find assistance. Then, recovery and ongoing sobriety will be possible.