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There is a common misconception that prescription medications are less dangerous to abuse than illicit substances because they are regulated substances and are prescribed to provide relief from a diagnosed medical condition. However, abuse of prescription medications can be as dangerous as abusing any substance. Many people who struggle with prescription drug abuse or addiction received their first dose from a doctor who wrote or administered the prescription. Prescription drug abuse occurs when a person abuses a medication that was prescribed to them by a medical professional or takes prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them at all. When a person takes more medication than prescribed, mixes the medication with other drugs, ingests the medication in a way other than prescribed (e.g., crushing and snorting a pill that is meant to be swallowed), and taking the medication more frequently than prescribed all exemplify different ways prescription drug abuse may occur. It is important to note that individuals who are under the direct supervision of a medical professional and take the medication properly may also be at risk for substance abuse, due to the nature of specific medications. 

Addiction

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g., drug seeking behaviors and use) despite harmful consequences. Habitually abusing prescription drugs will affect the way one’s brain functions, as one’s body becomes increasingly accustomed to functioning with the presence of the substance in its system. It is not uncommon for an individual struggling with an addiction to experience relationship challenges, negative physiological effects, financial strain, run into legal complications, lack personal hygiene, and have difficulty maintaining steady employment. Addiction can wreak havoc in all areas of one’s life, as an individual struggling with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her drug cravings above all else. The most abused prescription medications include the following types:

When prescription medications are used properly, they can be a highly effective component to one’s treatment plan. However, if prescription medications are abused, they can lead to severe short and long-term consequences, and exponentially increase one’s risk for developing substance use disorder. 

Treatment

The first step in one’s recovery process for prescription drug abuse is to fully rid one’s body of all medications and foreign substances. This accomplished through the detox process. Due to the possibility of dangerous side effects that may develop during this process it is encouraged to undergo a medically supervised detox. This enables twenty-four-hour monitoring and when needed, medical assistance to help with alleviating some of the discomforts of the detox process. Following a successful detox, a person struggling with prescription drug abuse should attend some form of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. There are different types of treatment programs available to individuals in need. Upon the completion of an addiction treatment program, individuals will leave with a tailored aftercare plan. An aftercare plan will help a person with relapse prevention and offer support for continued sober success. 

Further Information and Support

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Addiction can be an incredibly damaging disease. Navigating the challenges that arise from substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If left untreated, substance abuse and/ or addiction can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences.

While seeking help is never easy, it is beneficial to bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. There is an entire network of professionals that are readily available to help and support you or your loved one throughout every step of the recovery process.

 Pathways Recovery is a fully supportive treatment program for those struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction. We believe in our clients and their ability to turn their lives around. We know that each person who chooses to join our community has the strength it takes to overcome their challenges with substance abuse and/ or addiction. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer any questions and provide any information you may be looking for regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction. Feel free to contact us by phone at 626-515-6424 or 1-866-682-0901. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.