Our modern world has a drug for everything. Painful or debilitating conditions that our ancestors simply had to live with today can be treated, often quite easily, with the right combination of drugs. “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” is an old joke that nevertheless accurately describes the attitude of many doctors and many patients toward medication as the panacea for everything. This attitude has contributed in large part to the skyrocketing problem of prescription drug abuse seen over the past decade.
Abuse of prescription drugs has actually overtaken cocaine and heroin abuse in some parts of the country. As a general problem it continues to rise everywhere in the United States, in rural and urban areas alike. Prescription drugs taken for pain, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and many other real and treatable ailments are often opium-based, which gives each and every one of them a high potential for abuse and addiction. Opiates and the synthetic drugs based on them all act upon the central nervous system to suppress pain and alter mood, which makes them favorites for people looking to insulate themselves from the world at large. The euphoria they cause makes them party hits for the thrill-seeking crowd looking to get high.
Drugs like Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax, Oxycontin, Ambien, Valium, Hydrocone, and a hundred others are easily obtained, easily abused—but are very, very difficult to kick. They produce actual physical dependency by altering the way the brain functions; simply walking away is neither simple nor safe, nor, in most cases, possible without help. The hold on the body is simply too strong, and getting rid of the addiction is not a matter of simple willpower. Withdrawal from prescription drugs can be highly unpleasant, even dangerous, producing symptoms so severe that most people cannot maintain their resolve to quit.
Recovery from prescription drug abuse is best handled through a qualified drug detox center or residential drug treatment program which is set up to handle the sometimes dangerous side effects of withdrawal. There are many advantages to inpatient care at such a facility, not least of which is the 24/7 access to trained medical personnel and the close supervision through the withdrawal phase. Managing withdrawal symptoms to keep the patient safe and comfortable is crucial to beginning the entire recovery process.
Detoxification alone should not be the end goal of a recovery program. Often a prescription drug addiction is driven by factors that have nothing to do with managing physical pain. Emotional dependency is part of most prescription drug abuse. Within the walls of a drug treatment center, patients can explore, with the help of trained counselors, the roots of their dependency and the effect it has had upon their lives and families. The supportive environment allows a gradual transition from dependency to a normal lifestyle without the distractions and worries of the world outside. Whatever drove the abuse is doubtless still there, but the patient will learn to handle it without drugs.
Prescription drug abuse is no joke. Seek help immediately if you even suspect a problem.