Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

One of the most dangerous epidemics of the past 10 years has been the rapid increase in prescription drug use across the country. While misusing medication has become widespread, the health effects of prescription drug abuse are serious and sometimes fatal.

Health Risks

Opioid drugs like OxyContin, Fentanyl, Percoset, and others, can cause mood swings, choking, a decrease in basic cognitive functions, and slowed breathing (which can lead to a coma, or even death). In women, these drugs have the added potential to stop menstrual cycles and cause infertility.

Long-term use of Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (more commonly known as tranquilizers or sedatives), can cause lapses in memory, cardiovascular problems, and occasionally lead to seizures (sometimes fatal).
Habitually using stimulants, even over a relatively short period, can lead to paranoia and strange behavior; high doses can cause an increase in body temperature and abnormal heartbeat.


Aside from the risks above, prescription drug use can lead to addiction, even when a doctor prescribes the medication. When misused, the risk of addiction jumps exponentially. Becoming addicted to a drug means that you are physically dependent on it, and you develop an uncontrollable craving for it. Typically, you need more of the drug (and in higher doses) to get the same effects. This dependency has devastating consequences. Discontinuing the drug results in withdrawal symptoms — physical symptoms like nausea, shaking, sweating, and nervousness. Withdrawal from opioids produces symptoms such as deep pain in the bones, trouble sleeping, vomiting, and involuntary leg movement. Stimulant withdrawal can produce depression, exhaustion, and sleep problems. Withdrawal from some sedatives and tranquilizers can lead to life-threatening consequences.

Additionally, many people addicted to prescription drugs often turn towards street drugs when they run out of legal, socially acceptable methods of feeding their addiction; or when they aren’t getting the highs they once experienced. A prime example of this is the prescription drug-turned-heroin epidemic taking place across the United States. This current crisis stemmed from people with addictions to prescription drugs, seeking out heroin in an attempt to find some relief from opiate cravings, anxiety, and painful withdrawal symptoms.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Freedom from an addiction to prescription drugs is difficult but not impossible, and JourneyPure At The River has the staff and resources to give you or your loved one the best shot at long-term recovery. We take a comprehensive and holistic approach to treating addiction. In addition to medical intervention and cognitive behavioral therapy, JourneyPure At The River offers holistic services such as experiential therapies that have successfully helped prescription drug abusers go on to lead happy, productive, and sober lives. After you finish treatment, Coaching Platform allows us to stay connected to you for a full year, ensuring long-term sobriety.

Call us today, and a member of our staff will get back to you right away. Let us help you become free of your addiction, and get back to feeling like yourself again.

The 3 Classes of Prescription Drugs: Opioids, CNS Depressants, and Stimulants

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports there are three classes of prescription drugs that are the most frequently abused. Here’s a quick guide to bring you up to speed:

1. Opioids

Opioids are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Though their primary purpose of these drugs is to alleviate severe pain, they can produce a euphoric high and dangerous side effects when taken in large doses. You’ve likely heard of some of the more commonly abused prescription opioids:

  • Percocet
  • OxyContin: a partially synthetic painkiller combined with an opioid (derived from the poppy plant). It is prescribed primarily to cancer patients to help manage and relieve severe pain. As with other opioids, an OxyContin overdose causes respiratory failure, collapse of the circulatory system, and possibly death.
  • Morphine (and other surgical standbys)
  • Codeine (primarily used to treat coughs or mild pain)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) is a type of codeine that’s often found in liquid medications meant to suppress severe coughing and pain. High dosages of hydrocodone make the user feel drowsy and slightly numb. Taking too much hydrocodone may cause unconsciousness, seizures, and even death.
  • Fentanyl: a laboratory-created opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. It is used to relieve chronic pain in cancer patients as well as post-surgery patients. Given in lollipop, patch, or spray form, Fentanyl is one of the more dangerous opioids that can lead to death if not properly administered.

Opioids from the oxycodone family — drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, and Roxicodone — are designed to release slowly over a long period, so that patients experiencing high levels of pain won’t have to spend their day taking pills every few hours. Unfortunately, this leads to an even faster path to inadvertent addiction: addicts or recreational users often use oxycodone by crushing, snorting, or injecting the drug to bypass the slow acting function of the medication, increasing the rate of overdose significantly. In addition to the high risk of overdose, opioids slow down the brain’s ability to function, making the user feel drowsy and greatly diminishing their cognitive abilities. Additionally, opioids often cause constipation.

2. Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

More commonly known as tranquilizers or sedatives, CNS drugs slow down the brain’s activity. This property makes them especially useful in treating anxiety and sleep disorders, but quite dangerous when misused.

  • Benzodiazepines — This class of drugs, including Valium and Xanax, is typically used to treat anxiety issues, panic attacks, or stress reactions. Other benzodiazepines, like ProSom and Halcion, have more of a sedative effect that goes beyond the typical anxiety relief and are used to treat short-term sleep disorders. Doctors typically do not prescribe benzodiazepines for long-term sleep issues, because patients can quickly develop a tolerance and become addicted.
  • Valium (Diazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat chronic anxiety, panic disorder, alcohol withdrawal, and insomnia. Addiction to Valium may occur within just one month of the initial dosage, with “rebound” symptoms such as nervousness, agitation, and a quickly learned dependency on Valium to control symptoms. Clients addicted to benzodiazepines will need to undergo medical detoxification as part of their comprehensive prescription drug addiction treatment at JourneyPure At The River.
  • Sleeping Medications — Drugs like Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta, have a different chemical makeup than benzodiazepines but activate the same part of the brain. These drugs are widely considered less addictive and are used for long-term sleep disorders.

3. Stimulants

Stimulants are drugs that increase focus, energy and alertness, while elevating blood pressure levels, increasing heart rates, and (perhaps on a more positive note) helping to alleviate respiratory issues. In the past, health professionals readily prescribed stimulants to treat respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis, as well as other health issues running the gamut from neurological disorders to obesity. Over time, it became increasingly clear that the widespread use of stimulants was leading to addiction in patients, and as a result, stimulant prescriptions fell out of fashion in the medical world. These days, doctors primarily use stimulants to treat issues like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and depression — usually as a last resort if the usual channels of antidepressants and therapy aren’t working.

The dramatic increase in stimulant prescriptions over the past few decades has made them easier to obtain and, as a result, put the general population at a higher risk for dependence and abuse. Where people frequently run into trouble, is through the notion that prescription stimulants are safe due to their ubiquity and medical history. Because of this perception and the well-known benefit of drugs like Adderall or Concerta, abuse runs rampant in groups as diverse as academics, athletes, performers and people who feel that they just aren’t as productive as they’d like to be. This type of cognitive, physical enhancement poses a whole host of risks, from addiction to heart problems and in some cases, psychotic behavior.

Just as with street drugs or prescription opioids, people can quickly become addicted to stimulant drugs, particularly because of the feeling of energy they produce. Withdrawal symptoms further exacerbate the addiction. When the body gets used to these artificial highs, withdrawal symptoms kick in as the drug wears off. During these withdrawals, people can experience feelings of depression and may have trouble sleeping. Another side effect worth noting is that long-term stimulant abuse can lead to psychosis, paranoia, or aggressive behavior. High doses of a stimulant can cause body temperatures to rise, irregular heartbeats, or other troubling symptoms. In extreme cases, stimulants can cause cardiac arrest or death.

Call Us Today

You can learn to live a satisfying life without prescription drugs. You are worth it. Let us help. Talk to one of our compassionate counselors today if you or someone you know is suffering from prescription drug addiction.