Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Center Ohio
It can happen to anyone. You have a medical issue or disorder, perhaps chronic pain, anxiety, or adult ADHD. So, you go to your trusted healthcare provider for help. The provider prescribes medication for your situation. For most people, taking prescription medications as directed leads to relief and a better quality of life. But what happens when you have to take medication for the long-term management of a chronic condition and find yourself dependent on the pills just to feel normal? Worse yet, what if you become addicted to the very thing that promised you freedom from pain?
White Light Behavioral Health is a place where you can find real solutions when life throws you curveballs. Our facility in Columbus, Ohio offers programs that are meant to wean you off of prescription medications. When indicated and possible, we’ll also introduce alternatives for treating co-occurring health and mental health conditions.
Our compassionate setting provides you with a comfortable space where you can get to the root of the problem away from the stressors and situations that contributed to it.
The Scope of Prescription Drug Use in the U.S.
Prescription drugs are controlled substances that can only be obtained through a prescription from a licensed medical professional, usually a medical doctor or psychiatrist. They can only be dispensed from a doctor’s office or at a licensed pharmacy.
Because many of these substances also come with a high risk for misuse, patients are carefully monitored. Refills are also limited.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway.
Unfortunately, people can become dependent on their prescription medications and reliant on the relief they provide. This can lead to people taking more than the prescribed dosage or taking them more often than needed.
Many people simply misuse prescription medications for the perceived high or intoxicating effect. These effects are produced by changes in the brain. This is especially true for the dopamine receptors that regulate the brain’s reward systems and promote feelings of euphoria or well-being.
In the most extreme cases, individuals are driven to doctor or pharmacy shopping, taking someone else’s medication, forging prescriptions, or using illegal street drugs. As many as 80% of heroin users began by abusing prescription pain medications.
Any of these options can lead to a cycle of substance use, dependence, and a deterioration of your quality of life.
In 2020, there were reportedly 16 million people routinely misusing prescription drugs. During that same year, there were more than 28,800 deaths due to prescription drug overdose. The demographic most likely to misuse prescription medications are young adults aged 18 to 25.
Fortunately, not all prescription drugs are addictive, nor are all people who are prescribed medications likely to become dependent or develop a use disorder.
Most Misused Prescription Drugs
Prescription medications that are considered at high risk for misuse fall into three classifications: opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants.
Let’s begin with opioids. A lot has been written about the opioid crisis in the United States. Ohio is one state that has been especially hard hit. However, few people understand how easily opioid addiction can happen. It causes people to veer into a lifelong struggle of use, abstinence, and relapse that so often leads to an early death.
According to data gathered in 2020, more than 9 million of those misusing prescription drugs were taking opiate-based medications. What’s more, 16,500 of the above-mentioned overdose deaths were linked to opioids.
Opioids work on the brain in two ways. First, they block neurotransmission from pain receptors in the brain. This is why they’re prescribed so often for mild to severe pain. They also affect dopamine production and release.
Dependence starts when tolerance to opiates builds up, requiring more medication to get the same effect. People also take their medications more often, take them longer than necessary, or take more than the prescribed dosage. When they can no longer obtain their medications legally, they resort to desperate measures, such as trying dangerous illegal street drugs like heroin or fentanyl.
Opioids work great when taken as prescribed and carefully monitored. When misused or combined with CNS drugs or alcohol, they are often lethal.
Some signs of opioid use are:
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Itchiness and redness of the skin
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slurred speech
- Depressed respiration
- Nausea and vomiting
Another commonly misused medications are Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants. This category of prescription medications is most often used to manage anxiety disorder and related conditions. They include the very common sedative-hypnotic barbiturate drugs like Phenobarbital or Seconal and benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax.
These drugs are most commonly used to treat some mood disorders, insomnia, and muscle spasms. Because CNS drugs depress your central nervous system, they also slow your heartbeat and decrease respiration. They were linked to 12,300 of the 28,800 overdose deaths recorded in 2020.
Symptoms of CNS depressant use include:
- Confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Lack of energy
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Uncontrollable eye movements
Stimulants are also commonly misused. These medications are in the stimulant class. This includes diet pills used for weight management and drugs like Adderall or Ritalin that are used to regulate attention deficit disorders in children, teens, and adults. In fact, this is the class of prescription drugs most misused by children aged 11 to 17. According to data released as part of the 2020 study, approximately 5.1 million people misuse stimulants.
As with many of the medications we’re discussing, dopamine regulation plays a large part in stimulant misuse. However, these drugs also impact the production and use of Norepinephrine by the brain. This neurotransmitter controls the fight-or-flight response in the body as well as the level of physical activity.
Signs of stimulant use include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Redness on the skin
- Muscle twitching
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
Risk Factors For Prescription Drug Use Disorder
According to information obtained by the CDC, there are more than 860.4 million drugs dispensed or prescribed each year. Nearly half of all persons living in the United States have been prescribed some form of medication within the past 30 days. Another 24% were taking more than one prescription medication within the past month.
However, most of these individuals complete their course of medication without developing a dependency on them. There are risk factors that increase the odds of developing dependence or a use disorder.
These risk factors include:
- History of chronic pain or diagnosis of a chronic condition
- Previous history of substance use disorder
- Presence of a mental health disorder
- Higher prescribed dosage
- People who experience euphoria or intoxication when taking prescription meds
- Long-term use
Signs of Prescription Drug Dependence
Although there are specific symptoms of prescription drug use that vary with the class of medication, the signs of prescription drug dependence are pretty universal. The main difference is the duration and degree of use and relative functionality of the user. Some people are better able to hide their use from friends and family.
In general, the signs that someone has become dependent on their prescription meds include:
- Pill counting and obsession with their meds
- Watching the clock for their next dose
- Becoming anxious when their prescription is running low
- Faking symptoms in order to obtain a new prescription
- Running out of medications before a refill is available
- Taking someone else’s medication
- Purchasing street drugs
- Becoming angry or irritated when questioned about their use
- Sudden changes in habits or behavior
- Diminished performance at home, work, or school
How Dependence Becomes Addiction
There is a very fine line between dependence and addiction. One can become physically or emotionally dependent on their prescription without developing a substance use disorder. Often, the doctor or pharmacist is the first to notice the signs and change the medication.
However, if the individual seeks alternative ways of obtaining drugs, they may be addicted. Likewise, if the individual continues the patterns of this behavior despite the negative consequences of use, that is a sign that they need professional help to quit.
The Importance of Getting Professional Help and Support
Whether you’re dealing with a chronic health condition or you’ve become dependent on your medication, it’s important to get professional help in order to quit taking the drug.
Suddenly stopping medications can cause potentially serious side effects. As with the signs of use, symptoms of withdrawal also vary by the class of drug.
For example, opioid withdrawal is sometimes the reverse of use symptoms. Pinpoint pupils became dilated. Constipation will suddenly transition to severe diarrhea. There may also be muscle aches, profuse sweating, nausea, and vomiting.
With stimulants, the hyperactivity will end in a crash when you stop taking your meds. However, long-term use and sudden cessation could result in hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis, and heart or nerve problems.
Withdrawal from CNS depressants could result in a host of physical and emotional symptoms that include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
One symptom that’s common to all medication cessation is a craving for the drug.
It can become so intense that relapse seems like the only solution. In some cases, your doctor may notice a problem and decide to wean you off of the medication by gradually decreasing the dosage.
However, many people elect to enter drug rehab.
Prescription Medication Detox and Withdrawal
The first step in prescription drug addiction treatment is detox. You need to get all of the drugs out of your system so that your brain and body can function normally again.
This is best done under medical supervision in a secure facility like White Light Behavioral Health due to the potential dangers of withdrawal and the risk of relapse. Once your condition is stabilized and you’re lucid again, our staff will work with you to decide on a course of treatment.
Treatment options after detox include inpatient care or outpatient treatment.
Inpatient care involves a stay at our treatment center for a period of time. The length of stay will depend on the length and severity of the problem and your readiness to maintain sobriety.
During your stay, you’ll receive individual counseling with a licensed therapist who specializes in treating the root causes of substance use disorder. You’ll also receive a diagnosis and options for managing comorbidities. Many people who are dealing with prescription medication use disorder have co-occurring health or mental health conditions that need attention.
While you’re here, we’ll help you understand the nature of addiction and what led to your stay at our center. You’ll also learn what your triggers are and develop new coping skills to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Outpatient clients will receive all of the same treatment options and techniques. The only difference is that you’ll be able to attend sessions during the day and return home at night. There are also usually fewer sessions. Outpatient options are ideal for those who have a stable home environment and work or family obligations that prevent a stay at our facility.
Since the issue is prescription drug addiction, medications will only be used in cases of opioid withdrawal and medical maintenance when indicated. This is due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the high rate of relapse with opiates.
How to Get Help For Prescription Drug Addiction in Ohio
No one sets out to become dependent on prescription medications. Most of us are simply looking for a way to feel better and participate fully in life again.
At White Light Behavioral Health, we understand your struggle. Our goal is to provide our friends and neighbors in Columbus, OH with options when it comes to treating substance use disorders.
It’s never too late to start again. Contact White Light Behavioral Health to learn more or arrange treatment.