When you are taking certain prescription drugs you do have the potential for addiction.
Being aware of the dangers is a major first step of prevention of having a problem and not misusing or abusing prescription drugs.
The misuse and abuse of legal prescription drugs can create a multitude of problems. These problems can include medical, personal, and even legal issues and can be very as serious as the problems associated with illegal drugs. Many of the difficulties can be avoided if a person will follow some straightforward guidelines.
- Make sure that any doctor treating you has a complete list of all medications, both prescription and nonprescription, as well as all herbal supplements, that you are currently taking. If you go for treatment at a clinic or emergency room it is important as well. Be sure to give the treating physical complete and accurate information concerning your habits such as your use of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can interact dramatically with many medications, especially painkillers and sedatives.
- Get clear instructions on how to use your prescription medications. Be sure you understand why, when, and how you should take your medication. Have these instructions in writing as well because you might forget the details later. Always stay within the guidelines that are recommended especially if the medication has instructions say it should be taken “as needed.” More is not always better. Be aware that some drugs may cause problems is you stop taking them abruptly.
- NEVER share your medication with anyone and never take medication that has not been prescribed just for you.
- If you are taking a narcotic painkiller or other medications that are known to have an abuse potential, be sure to keep it in a safe place away from children or teenagers, or anyone else who might be tempted to try stealing it.
- If you have had a problem with drug addiction or abuse in the past, make sure you are up-front with your doctor and tell him. Being honest about your past history can help the doctor make the right decisions when prescribing medications for you.
Having an addiction to prescription drugs can lead to a some serious complications and the person who is abusing them may be involved in a complex set of issues that involve multiple physicians, pharmacies, and family members. Seldom will the others know or have a compete picture of what is actually happening with the person who is abusing. Typically the prescription drug abuser has a list of medical problems and symptoms that can prevent them from dealing with their problem. They usually are not taking the drugs just for pleasure. They will usually always have headaches, abdominal pains, back spasms, injuries, or other medical issues that give them an excuse to take more medication. Often facing their drug problem will get sidetracked because:
- Most doctors like to help their patient feel better as soon as they can, and prescribing painkilling or sedative drugs are usually the most effective for that purpose at least for a little while.
- Doctors like to give their patients the benefit of the doubt. Unless they see a clear pattern of drug-seeking in their patient they like to believe the patient actually needs help with a medical problem. They also like to rule out every possible cause for their patient’s distress and this can sometimes take weeks or months before they entertain the possibility that the addictive need for painkillers or other drugs are actually part or all of the problem.
- Confronting the patient about a potential or probable drug problem is an unpleasant task, as well as being emotional, and nearly always very time-consuming for the doctor. In the middle of a frantic day at the office, it’s usually easier for a doctor to simply renew the drug prescription rather than have an unhappy or unpleasant patient that is insisting on picking up a prescription that day.
Because of these factors, getting a person who is abusing prescription drugs into appropriate treatment can be an extremely difficult and even contentious process. Not only will the abusers of prescription drugs frequently deny or lie about their drug abuse problem, they will also generally resent the interference and concern from others. They almost always have an excuse such as, “I’m in so much pain all of the time, I really don’t want to take the drugs because I’m not a pill-popper. I just need them to get through the day.”
Very often a planned confrontation or intervention involving the physician and concerned family and friends is necessary to convince the drug taker that he or she needs help to deal specifically with the prescription medications themselves. Often, even that effort may be unsuccessful if the user still refuses to acknowledge that his or her prescriptions are a problem.
Apart from a direct, and even miraculous intervention from a Higher Being, recovery is never a quick fix for those who have become addicted to prescription drugs. It will become a life-long process. Even after appropriate treatment, counseling, and support has been experienced by the user they may struggle with relapses, even after years of being clean and drug free.
Those users who admit their problems are willing to seek help can draw upon many resources:
- Medical care – Some may require a medically supervised withdrawal and detoxification process and hospitalization may be needed to have it carried out safely and successfully.
- Counseling – Personal and family may be needed to help sort out conflicts that might have contributed to or created the drug abuse problem in the first place. The drug users and the family may need to face some tough and unpleasant issues as they head down the road to recovery.
- Group work – Some have found addiction groups can be a lifesaving force in their lives. Here they often find encouragement, support, and especially accountability with and from others who have been in a similar situation.
Often a person who has been taking prescription drugs will not have a very healthy self-esteem and may not even be interested in changing their habits. The decision to enter some form of treatment to overcome their addiction lies within the user alone.