Prescription Drug Addiction Myths
Learn about the common myths about prescription drug addiction that have been debunked.
What Is a Prescription Drug?
A prescription drug is a medication prescribed by a doctor to treat a disease, disorder, or discomfort.1 Prescription drugs are always prescribed to one singular person at a time and should only be consumed by the person who has been prescribed the medication. Although prescription medications can be invaluable when treating ailments, they should always be consumed with caution and used as directed by a medical professional.
Can Prescription Drugs Be Abused or Addictive?
Yes, prescription drugs can be abused and addictive. There are several myths about prescription drug addiction claiming that it is not as dangerous as other forms of drug abuse. This simply is untrue, and abusing prescription medication can be very dangerous.
If a person is taking prescription drugs in ways not intended by the doctor, this is considered abuse. Overmedicating, medicating too frequently, or medicating to get high are all considered forms of prescription drug abuse.
Most Abused Prescription Drugs
The most abused prescription drugs also happen to be the prescription drugs that are prescribed the most. These drugs are opioids, stimulants, benzodiazepines, and hypnotics. Each of these drugs is prescribed for different reasons, but they are all equally addictive.
Prescription stimulants are medications prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and insomnia.3 Consuming stimulants can produce feelings of euphoria, overconfidence, productivity, and excessive energy levels. Stimulants are considered to be one of the most abused substances in the United States.
Benzodiazepines are a form of prescription medication used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal.4 The relaxing and tranquilizing effects of benzodiazepines are the main elements contributing to the addictiveness of this substance. Therefore, misuse of prescription benzodiazepines is likely to lead to addiction and physical dependence.
Hypnotics, also known as sleeping pills, are a type of prescription medication used to treat insomnia and induce sedation.5 When taking hypnotics frequently, it is possible to become physically dependent on consumption, leading to addiction.6 Because of this, hypnotics are not typically used in long-term treatment regimens.
Common Myths About Prescription Drug Addiction
There are several common myths about prescription drug addiction that must be debunked so people understand the risks of misusing prescription medications. 7 Here are five myths about prescription drugs that are not true yet commonly believed:
Myth #1: Prescription Drugs are Safer to be Addicted to Than Other Illicit Substances
Many people believe that because doctors prescribe prescription drugs, they are safer to be addicted to compared to other illicit substances. However, this is untrue. There are many health complications that can arise with addiction to prescription medications, including overdose, which could be potentially fatal.
Myth #2: Prescription Drug Addiction Doesn’t Cause Bad Side Effects
Another common myth about prescription drugs is that they don’t cause bad side effects. Although prescription medication may have benefits and be successful at treating diseases and ailments, there are many risks and side effects involved with its consumption and even more risks involved with the misuse of these substances.
Myth #3: It’s Easy to Stop Prescription Drug Addiction
Because prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors, it is a widespread assumption that it is easy to stop prescription drug addiction after it develops. Similar to any other drug addiction, prescription medications can be very difficult to quit if a person has become physically or psychologically dependent. Stopping this addiction will require checking in to a prescription drug addiction rehab center.
Myth #4: I Can Mix My Prescription Drugs Without Asking My Doctor
Many people assume that because a doctor has prescribed them the medications, it is safe to mix prescription drugs without asking a doctor. Nonetheless, mixing prescription drugs can have dangerous side effects—potentially deadly side effects. Therefore, a person should always consult with a doctor before mixing prescription medications.
Myth #5: Prescription Drug Addiction Makes Life Better
Since prescription drugs are considered a medicine, many people believe the myth that prescription drug addiction can make life better. Like any other substance, long-term consumption and physical dependence can have adverse effects and, in some cases, can be very dangerous. Becoming addicted to prescription medication can be extremely harmful, regardless of whether or not it was prescribed by a doctor.
Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction
There are several signs that can be used to help identify prescription drug addiction.8 Prescription drug addiction symptoms can be physical, psychological, or behavioral. Identifying these signs can help determine whether or not a person is abusing prescription drugs.
The physical symptoms of prescription medication addiction are constipation, nausea, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, dizziness, drowsiness, aches, fever, and unsteady walking.
The psychological signs of prescription drug addiction are paranoia, delusions, anxiety, depression, and confusion.
The behaviors signs of prescription drug addiction include agitation, loss of appetite, slurred speech, poor concentration, insomnia, and excessive mood swings.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehab
To combat addiction, a person can seek out prescription drug addiction treatment and rehab. There are several different forms of treatment and prescription drug addiction rehab that a person can choose from.
Prescription Drug Detox
Prescription drug detox is an essential part of healing from addiction. During detox, a person will eliminate toxins and substances from their body after ceasing consumption. The prescription drug detox process should be done in the presence of a medical professional at a detox or rehab center due to the potential withdrawal symptoms and patients’ overall safety.
Inpatient Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
Inpatient prescription drug addiction treatment is an immersive program that provides the tools and support systems a person needs while overcoming addiction. Entering an inpatient prescription drug addiction treatment program can help decrease a person’s risk of relapse.
Outpatient Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
Once a person has completed an inpatient program, entering an outpatient prescription drug addiction treatment program can help them continue on a path of sobriety while adjusting to life after overcoming addiction. Typically, outpatient programs include support groups, therapy, and doctor’s appointments to hold people accountable for their sobriety.