Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
Drugs are chemical substances which interfere with the chemical composition of body and mind at the cellular level. Drugs affect the way the cells function hence altering whole body and mind processes.
In order to understand prescription drug abuse, it is important to understand what prescription drugs are, what the other(s) categories of drugs are and what constitutes abuse, the effects of drug abuse, the extent of harm that drug abuse can cause and how one can get treatment for drug abuse.
Drugs fall under general categories depending on a number of factors. The following are some of the factors which influence which category a drug falls under:
Administration means – this is the means through which a drug is administered into the body. Drugs come in many forms such as: tablets, pills, syrups, powder, capsules etc. The means through which any of these drug forms are administered into the body are:
Injection into the veins (intravenous injections) and through injection directly into the muscles (intramuscular injection)
Orally – most pills, tablets, syrup and capsules are taken orally (swallowed) into the mouth and into the stomach through which enzymes act on them and they are released slowly into the bloodstream via the intestinal walls
Suppository – this is the placing of a drug powder, tablet, liquid etc. into the vagina or anus; from where they are absorbed fast into the blood stream from the thin anal and vaginal tissues
Snorting – the drug (in powder form) is inhaled into the nostrils and gets absorbed into the blood stream from the thin nasal tissues
The means of administration of a drug determines how fast it gets into the bloodstream and hence how fast and intensely the effects will be experienced (by the body and mind).
The fastest means of administering a drug into the blood stream is through injection, inhalation/ insufflation, suppository and orally is the slowest means. Effects of drugs injected into the body are felt much faster and more intensely than if the drugs were swallowed.
Drug abusers alter the means of drug administration to faster means so that they can solely intensify the effects of the drug. Categories of drugs used by these means are as follows: stimulants, depressants and psychedelic.
Effects on the body and mind
Stimulants speed up body and brain activity increasing the tempo of breathing, respiration, digestion, heart rate and other automatic body processes. They also increase the mind activity by increased alertness, awareness and concentration. Examples of stimulants include: cocaine, caffeine, methamphetamine and Ritalin.
Depressants on the other hand react in the exact opposite way of stimulants. They slow the CNS and brain; reducing the rate of automatic bodily processes and slowing the brain by inducing drowsiness and reduced concentration. Examples of these drugs are: morphine, heroin, suboxone, suboxone, all pain relievers and cough suppressants.
Hallucinogens/ psychedelics alter thinking. The most popular of these drugs is Marijuana, although MDMA and most of the stimulants and depressants exhibit mind altering characteristics
Prescription or recreational drugs
Drugs can either fall under the category of prescription drugs – issued in treatment of some sort of ailment with instructions for intake, or recreational drugs – used for leisure and not because they are meant to treat anything as advised by a medical professional. It is to be noted that some people do take prescription drugs for leisure.
Possession and use of some drugs is banned or prohibited in come countries and they are declared illegal. Such drugs include most of the so-called hard drugs such as: heroin, marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth etc. Other drugs use and possession is acceptable and these include drugs used for treating diseases as well as some recreational drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes. .
Prescription drug abuse is the unregulated intake of drugs which have been prescribed, for use to some people, for treating illnesses. These drugs may be abused by people who have been given their prescription (when they fail to follow the intake instructions completely) or by people who do not even have the prescription.
Prescription medication abuse comprises intake of higher doses of the drugs, intake of the drug more frequently than instructed, combining drug intake with other substances which alter the intensity of the drug’s effects, altering it’s intended form to get the drug into the system faster, administering it in a different means than prescribed and taking the drug in a body that is too weak to deal with the effects of this drug.
Abusers of depressants aim at achieving the maximum drowsiness or euphoria induced by the drugs as well as reducing sensitivity and numbing pain.
Abusers of stimulant drugs abuse them in an effort to achieve the maximum effects of the drugs: increased body temperature, alertness, improved self esteem, mood, and euphoria.
Psychedelic abusers aim at altering their thoughts to curb their current ones. They assume their current thoughts are not very pleasant and thus take drugs such as marijuana to ‘get out of this world’.
Prescription tolerance, dependence and addiction
Prescription abuse can lead to increased tolerance for the drug; which is the reduced response of the brain and the body to the drug. Increased tolerance reduces the effectiveness of the drug in treating the ailments it is supposed to treat; which forces the person to take more of the drug for the same effects. Tolerance leads to dependence and addiction.
Addiction treatment for prescription drugs is done in two phases which run concurrently. These are detoxification and counseling/ therapy. Detoxification is the cleansing of the body of the drug by withdrawing the drug and using other means or medications to treat the resulting withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal of the drugs should be done gradually and never abruptly. This is to ensure that withdrawal symptoms are monitored and treated before they get out hand. The treating drug should be based on the withdrawal symptoms experienced and their intensity and its use should also be determined by the subsiding of the withdrawal symptoms it was treating. Withdrawal of the treating drug should also be gradual, especially if it has been used for some time to also avoid withdrawal symptoms of its own.
Therapy should be incorporated with detoxification as it helps the people offering the addicts assistance in quitting the drug to identify the most urgent needs and also underlying needs that may have led to the abuse and continued abuse of the prescription drugs.
Prescription addiction treatment is important in helping people get off prescription drugs so that they do not develop total resistance to the drugs; which would make treatment of any illnesses they have near impossible as they are resistant to the drugs.