The United States has been overrun by an epidemic that all started with addictive prescription drugs. Over the last twenty or so years, prescription medications have quickly become one of the deadliest killers in the country, ranging from accidental overdoses to fatal car crashes, all the way down to suicides. The problem here lies not so much in people taking them, but in our societies eagerness to trust every opinion that the doctors and pharmaceutical companies are handing out.
For those of us who suffer from addiction or alcoholism, it is likely that at one point or another, prescription medications played a large role in our lives. For many people in my age group (20-28) we were prescribed a handful of medications since we were pre-teens to calm our hyperactivity or to suppress our childhood angst that was labeled depression. This is by no means a stand against people who truly suffer from ADHD or severe depression, but more a statement towards the progression through which addiction can develop. We have all heard that Marijuana is a gateway drug, however, for many of us in the Generation Y category, we were hand-fed amphetamines and stimulants before we ever even took that first hit of the joint. However, since it was prescribed by a doctor, no one thought it could be addictive or dangerous.
In the same category as Meth, we have Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. Amphetamines are a stimulant that affect the chemicals in the brain that control hyperactivity and impulses. According to Fox news, these addictive prescription drugs were prescribed over 29 million times in 2005, and that number has shown no sign of decreasing. As with Meth, these prescription synthetics affect the dopamine levels of the brain, and are commonly abused by people who need to fight sleep, such as truck drivers, college students, stressed out parents, and lawyers, to name a few. The problem with these drugs is their highly addictive qualities and the easy accessibility. Since they interact with the dopamine receptors, eventually the brain will develop a tolerance to the chemical makeup, therein, the user will need to take more and more to achieve the effect they are looking for. When the user decides to stop taking the drugs, they can experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from severe depression, anxiety, cravings, increase or loss of appetite, psychosis, respiratory depression, and seizures.
Also called tranquilizers and depressants, benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, and create the calming and tranquil effect for people who suffer from anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. These are the most commonly abused prescription medications, as somewhere near 30% of the country has been diagnosed with any variety of these disorders. However, it is common that people who have experienced brief and temporary bouts of depression and anxiety were put on long-term medication regimens, which is not always needed. Drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Lexapro are among the most commonly prescribed, and abused. Users are usually looking for the sedating effect that these addictive prescription drugs provide, but can be unaware of the dangers that result in the abrupt halt of taking them. The way that these prescriptions work is that they are intended to be a long-term, slow release process, in which the chemicals are gradually stored in the brain to help even the user out over a long period of time. When a user suddenly stops taking their medication, it can shock the brain and nervous system, causing severe depression, extreme anxiety, body tremors, migraines, heart palpitations, and burning sensations through the brain. Because of this, withdrawing from Benzos is one of the most dangerous drugs to stop using, as it can be fatal.
We are all well aware of the chaos that the heroin epidemic has caused. However, a lesser known fact is that the real rise of heroin came only after Oxycontin was introduced to the market in the early 1990’s. Due in large part to the easy accessibility to painkillers and other morphine derivatives, opioid-related deaths have been bumped up to the top 5 killers in the country. Again, there is a large issue with doctors over prescribing these medications, and then there is the issue of the massive street value of the medications as well. Many people have ended up dumbfounded after realizing that their doctor prescribed them a pill for their Sciatica, and a few months later they were sitting in detox, wondering how it happened. The alarming thing about the opioid epidemic is that it doesn’t just affect those in the lower tax bracket as the media would have us believe, but in fact, opioid addiction has slipped into homes across the country, rich and poor, cities and small towns, old and young. The move to heroin usually occurs when the person can no longer afford their prescription, and they want something cheaper and more potent.
Whatever flavor you choose, there is no doubt of the dangers that these addictive prescription drugs carry along with them. Sure, it is probably written in small print on the packet the doctor hands their patient, but when someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, or severe physical pain, it is pretty likely that they aren’t reading the fine print too closely.
Now, when we add into account the fact of how easy it is for people to fake these symptoms in order to sell these pills on the street, we rope in a whole new population of dangers to the list. People who already suffer from addiction will most likely use these prescription drugs in combination with what they already use. For example, during my college years, I had a friend who liked to eat a handful of Xanax and then go to the bar. As you can imagine, that friend would disappear at some point, and the next day we would always have to go pick them up from jail after they got into a fight, or find them passed out behind the bar, with wallet, phone, and keys missing. On the other hand, I myself would use benzos as a way to combat the withdrawal effects when I would run out of my drug of choice, Oxycontin.
The problem is that people know that these highly addictive prescription drugs come from a factory, are government approved, and a doctor told them or someone they knew that they were okay to take. I was prescribed Percocet 30 mg after a small tooth procedure in high school, and what do you know, I was off to the races. Before that I only drank and smoked pot on occasion, after my dentist prescribed me Percs, I was a full blown addict within 6 months. Prescription medications can be addictive, and can ruin lives. The scariest part is that we are feeding them to our children and grandparents.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction
Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. At Pinnacle Recovery, we understand this and we are here to help you through the anxiety that going to a treatment center for drugs can bring. With help from our professionals, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible, and you can learn what it means to achieve a sustained and happy recovery. So call us today at 1-866-301-0573 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Pinnacle Recovery.