America has a prescription medication issue–and the problem is growing. When we take a look at the statistics that are provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), the widespread use and abuse of these medications is startling:
- 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription medications for non-medical purposes in their lifetime.
- While the United States only comprises 5% of the total world population, its citizens consume 75% of all prescription medications.
- 6.1 million Americans over the age of 12 have reported they have used prescription medications for non-medical purposes in the last month.
Of all the prescription medications that are being misused in the country, prescription painkillers are the most abused. According to the same study provided by the NIH, 5.1 million of the nearly 9 million Americans who regularly abuse prescription medications are abusing painkillers. These medications are widely prescribed and are an effective pain management tool in a wide variety of medical situations when properly used as prescribed. However, prescription painkillers are highly addictive, and people who take these medications can become easily hooked on these drugs. It is important that people who find themselves addiction to prescription painkillers find professional help immediately.
If you or a loved one are struggling with prescription painkiller addiction, please call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center and find out more about our Florida prescription painkiller addiction programs. Call us today at 1-800-960-5341.
Understanding Prescription Painkiller Abuse
Prescription painkillers are powerful narcotic-based medications that belong to a family of drugs called opioids. Opioids are similar in chemical structure to opiate drugs such as heroin, morphine, and codeine and produce analgesic or pain-blocking effects in the body. Prescription painkillers interfere with the nervous system’s transmission of the nerve signals that we perceive as pain. These medications bind to opioid receptors which are at their highest concentrations in the brain, spinal cord. These receptors can also be found in the gastrointestinal tract as well as other organs in the body.
There are three major types of opioid substances that are found in prescription painkillers. The most commonly known active ingredient is oxycodone and can be found in painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percodan and Percocet. Another major opioid substance that is an active ingredient in popular painkillers is hydrocodone and it can be found in painkiller medications such as Vicodin and Lorcet. Lastly, meperidine can be found in Demerol, Dilaudid and Darvon. Painkillers are commonly found in tablet form and are specifically created to be time-released so the pain blocking agents can eventually be released in a person’s body. The time-release mechanism also makes it more difficult for abuse. Prescription painkillers are also available in capsules and in liquid form.
The Effects of Prescription Painkillers on the Body and Brain during Addiction
As stated earlier, prescription painkillers act on those specific receptors within the central nervous system in order to reduce the sensation of pain. These drugs also release large amounts of dopamine which is the brain’s natural “feel-good” chemical. With increased use, these medications take over in producing dopamine and other neurotransmitters and the levels of naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the body decreases over time. Eventually, and the body builds an increased tolerance to the painkillers so more of the substance is needed to produce the same effect.
Although prescription painkillers take the place of neurotransmitters on the opiate receptors, they cannot fill all of the neurotransmitters roles. Painkillers also have a depressant effect on the central nervous system and users can experience to slower breathing, slurred speech, and slower bodily reactions. Once someone is physically addicted to painkillers, they will experience extreme physical withdrawal symptoms once they stop taking these medications. These symptoms can occur within a few hours and can include agitation, restlessness, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, irritability bone and joint pain, emotional instability, and depression. Not only do painkillers change brain chemistry, it also kills brain cells. The areas of the brain that are most affected are those areas which have to do with cognition, learning, and memory.
Prescription Painkiller Addiction Treatment
There are people who use prescription painkillers who may think the dangers of these medications are decreased because they are prescribed by a doctor. The reality is that painkiller addiction cannot be handled through quitting cold turkey or by means of self-detoxification. The withdrawal symptoms that people endure are similar to those of heroin and other opiate drugs, and depending on factors such as health history, the length of time and the amount of drugs taken, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. With the professional help and supervision of a Florida prescription painkiller treatment addiction, those addicted to these medications can fully recover and lead healthy and happy lives.
In order to help minimize the effects of withdrawal, it is important those who struggle with painkiller addiction undergo medical detoxification so they can get weaned off of these medications and get to a substance-free and stable state. During the detox process, staff will conduct a comprehensive medical and mental health evaluation to diagnose any co-occurring disorders that can impact the recovery process. Additionally, medications such as Suboxone may also be used to help clients ease through detox much easier.
After detox, patients at a Florida prescription painkiller treatment facility will go through a rigorous inpatient drug treatment program where they will undergo an individualized recovery program made up individual and group therapy, life and coping skills training, relapse prevention education, and another essential treatment services. Ultimately, the goal of a Florida painkiller addiction treatment program is to give addicts and tools, support and encouragement they need to live in meaningful life in recovery.
Make Your Recovery a Reality Today!
For those struggling with painkiller addiction, it can feel overwhelming and as if there is no hope. Fortunately, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center has the effective treatment programming, experienced staff, and full continuum of care that will help you recover in mind, body and spirit. Don’t wait another day to face your addiction; pick up the phone and call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free at 1-800-960-5341 and make your recovery a reality today.