Why America Has a Prescription Drug Problem
Prescription drug abuse is a significant problem in the US that contributes to more than 60,000 deaths from fatal overdoses every single year. There are estimated to be around 2.5 million Americans currently in a struggle with prescription drugs and this is a number that is rising sharply all the time.
So where has this crisis come from?
Most of the prescription drugs behind this epidemic are opiate-based and were originally prescribed to assist in the management of pain for chronic conditions. When something is described as “chronic” rather than “acute” it refers to a condition that lasts more than 12 weeks and is something a person can be dealing with for a lifetime.
It is when someone is forced to take opiate-painkillers to treat their distressing symptoms for a prolonged period of time that problems can arise and dependency on them can surface as a result. The main reason abusing opiates becomes a progressive illness is because over time, the body develops tolerance to their effects and more is required to get the desired effects.
Why Prescription Medication Abuse Has Become A Problem
It is very possible to treat people with prescription drug disorder to allow them to go on to enjoy a healthier life in recovery. However, getting them to take the first step can often place a significant obstacle in the path of getting treatment for prescription drug abuse.
The problem is that prescription medication abuse is almost considered the “acceptable face of addiction” in that the drugs people are increasingly becoming dependent on originate from their physician’s office. The fact that these highly addictive painkillers are sourced legitimately almost makes them “safe” in many peoples’ minds.
The trouble is that when their effects are reduced as tolerance develops, patients can be left in a difficult situation in that their pain symptoms will begin to return. Doctors are unwilling to increase doses to overcome this tolerance because of the highly addictive nature of opiate painkillers and this can lead to sufferers looking elsewhere to get more of the drugs they crave.
How Addiction Develops
When someone is reliant on prescribed medications to manage their symptoms, they may not be aware of their body’s developing dependence during the time they take them. In many respects, even if someone is aware of the addictive nature of certain painkillers, the painful symptoms they experience nevertheless require prescription drug treatment. In other words, more people are taking opiate-based painkillers in full knowledge of the risks but through an inability to know what else to do.
People who have been prescribed potent painkillers are naturally susceptible to becoming dependent on the drugs because they rely on them on a daily basis. Some will not be capable of going to work or school without taking pain relief, which can lead to them self-medicating with other opiate-based drugs just to get them out of bed. Aside from the financial implications of not being able to work due to pain, people may be worried about being exposed by coworkers because of their issues with painkilling drugs. These are just some of the numerous concerns people have when they are becoming slowly addicted to the painkillers they desperately need to manage their symptoms.
Effective Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse is Available
Although addiction to painkilling prescription drugs can seem like an insurmountable problem, it can be very effectively treated. A good prescription drug treatment program will offer patients help with their dependency and also teach them how to manage their symptoms of chronic pain in other, healthier ways.
Behavioral therapy along with medical prescription drug treatments, counseling and complementary therapies can be combined into a personalized program to address the specific needs of each individual in rehab. Everyone has their own unique addiction journey and people respond to different prescription drug treatments in varying ways. Behavioral therapy has a very strong focus on the individual and works by developing a strong relationship of trust within a rehab environment in which the patient can being to explore the negative thought patterns and processes behind their addiction issues.
By recognizing these negative processes, a behavioral therapist can teach patients how to adapt their behavior to encourage more positive thoughts and actions going forward. Much of the challenge of overcoming prescription medication abuse is identifying the root cause of the problem and this is why behavioral therapy within a wider addiction treatment context has been shown to be so successful.