Some prescription medications are more dangerous than others, and opioids are perhaps the most dangerous of all. Opioids are a type of prescription pain medication. Some common opioid brand names include the following:
These medications relax the central nervous system and decrease feelings of pain. They are very effective for treating severe pain, but because they are also highly addictive, prescription opioids should only be used as a short-term treatment. Today, the United States is still healing from the opioid crisis that began in the late 1990s. Many doctors, who were led to believe that opioids were not addictive, over-prescribed the medication. By the time doctors in the US realized the addictive nature of these pills, millions of people found themselves addicted to the medication. Some started using heroin, which is chemically similar to opioids and produces a similar effect.
In addition to being addictive, opioids are also dangerous. Risks from opioid use include overdose, decreased heart rate, digestive problems, and slowed breathing. Some victims of opioid abuse even stop breathing altogether.
In 2016, 116 people per day died from opioid overdose.
Doctors prescribe Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium for anxiety, panic, and insomnia. Like opioids, they are quite effective in treating their target conditions. Also like opioids, they are not meant to be a long term solution to these issues. Benzodiazepines come with a high risk of dependence and tolerance. Dependence means that the individual develops a need for the medication. An insomniac may feel that he or she cannot get to sleep at all without it, for example. Tolerance is what happens when the individual’s body gets so used to the medication that the medication loses its impact. The person may start taking higher and higher doses to get the same relief that smaller doses used to provide. As central nervous system depressants, benzodiazepines have similar dangers to opioids, including slowed breathing and heart rate. Dependence and tolerance only add to those dangers.
If you think you may have an addiction, call Rehab Info at 800-492-QUIT today.
Perhaps the most well-known prescription stimulant is Adderall. Doctors prescribe Adderall and similar medications to improve focus in patients with ADD or ADHD. For those who do have these disorders, stimulant medication is helpful and even necessary. However, this medicine works differently on the brains of those who do not have ADD or ADHD. People who do not have ADD or ADHD will sometimes abuse prescription stimulants recreationally or as academic performance enhancers. As stimulants, Adderall and similar medications work in the opposite way of depressants, speeding up rather than slowing down the central nervous system. As a result, the dangers from stimulants look different than those of the medications described above. These dangers include:
- Increased heart rate
- Nerve damage
Some people get caught in a terrible cycle of using stimulants or “uppers” to wake up in the morning and depressants or “downers” to go to sleep at night. The combination puts a lot of strain on the heart and comes with a high risk of overdose.
Thankfully, addiction treatment is available for those who struggle with addiction to prescription medications. Those with addictions to opioids and benzodiazepines especially should seek medical detox. When a person stops taking drugs, that person’s body will go through a process called detox. During detox, the drugs exit the person’s body. Benzodiazepines and opioids both have a dangerous detox process. Detoxing in a medical facility means that trained medical staff can safely wean the individual off the drugs, avoiding life-threatening complications such as heart attack and seizure. If one of those events should happen, the medical staff can provide treatment as quickly as possible.
Detox, of course, is not the end of drug treatment. Addiction is both physical and psychological, and treatments work best when they address both of these aspects of the person. After detox, the individual should go into rehab if at all possible. Inpatient rehabs provide the best option for those who are addicted to opioids and benzodiazepines. Because participants reside in the facility during treatment, those who go to inpatient rehab receive structured and highly focused treatment. Outpatient rehabs allow participants to live at home during treatment. They provide many of the same therapies and are a great option for those who are addicted to less dangerous drugs.
In addition to detox and rehab, other types of therapy can help people work through addiction. Many addicted individuals find success with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which teaches patients how to recognize and reframe harmful thoughts.
How to Start Treatment
Sometimes, the hardest part of treatment is getting started. When you’re surrounded by several different pathways, you can feel stuck and unsure. At Rehab Info, we would love to point you in the right direction.