Those abusing prescription medications are no different than those who are addicted to heroin, cocaine or any illegal drug. An addict that uses prescription drugs may come to be depend on them which can result in negative consequences. When an addict uses prescription drugs the medication can change the brain chemistry, making it less effective at producing other chemicals in the brain. Once this occurs the brain will need the drug to maintain homeostasis. At this point the addict now has a physical dependence on the medication.

The initial decision to take prescription drugs may be by choice, but over time this may change. The ability to make sound decisions may change and the impulse to take more than prescribed could increase. There are a few different classes of prescription drugs that are often abused: opioids like OxyContin, Percocet, or Vicodin which are used to treat pain; central nervous system depressants, or benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin which are commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin, which are used to treat attention deficit disorder.

Some of the effects of using prescription drugs excessively may include:  anxiety; depression; difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much; A loss of interest in relationships with friends or family; withdraws symptoms may develop the user attempts to stop the medications on their own. Signs that someone is becoming dependent on prescription drugs could include:  mood swings; lack of interest in treatment options other than more medications; complaints of vague symptoms to get more medication; ‘doctor-shopping’ to get more pills; on and off relief from anxiety; using more than the recommended dose of the medication. The best way to treat someone who has become addicted to prescriptions is through a residential detox facility, such as Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center.

A commonly abused class of drugs which are often mixed with other prescription medications, sometimes producing fatal results are benzodiazepines or ‘benzos’.  These are psychoactive drugs which enhance the effect of brain receptors resulting in sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxing effects. Benzos are widely prescribed for a variety of conditions, chief among them, anxiety and insomnia. Used chronically, benzos are addicting. Caution must be used when prescribing benzos to patients with a current or past history of substance abuse. Benzos are widely prescribed and generally produce almost immediate effects and may be prescribed for short-term “as-needed” use.

An association between benzo use, depressive symptoms and in some cases, the emergence of suicidal ideation, has been seen. People rarely abuse benzos as a solo drug. They are commonly used with opioids. As a possible drug of abuse, benzos are preferred among addicts because of the rapid onset of action. Many people seek out drug detox and drug rehab in order to titrate safely off of benzodiazepine. Discontinuation of benzos or a quick reduction of the dose, even if only taking for a short period of time, can result in withdrawal symptoms.  This is a major sign of physical dependence. Whether you are seeking drug rehab treatment for benzo addiction, pain killer abuse, or any other prescription drug, it is important to research and find a drug treatment center that can safely detox you, providing the education/skills needed to both obtain and maintain lasting sobriety.

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