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Why Prescription Drug Abuse is on the Rise

The issue of prescription drug addiction is one that has been regularly reported on in the press over recent years.

Prescription drugs are typically given to those suffering various health problems such as chronic or severe pain, sleeping disorders, and anxiety disorders. However, this type of medication is designed to be taken for a short period only because of its potential for abuse.

Many prescription drugs can be highly addictive and, if abused, can cause harm. The issue of prescription drug addiction is one that has been regularly reported on in the press over recent years, particularly after the deaths of high profile individuals such as Prince and George Michael, both of whom struggled with painkiller addictions. The issue of why prescription drug abuse is on the rise is one that the UK Government is also looking into.

Why Prescription Drug Abuse is a Growing Problem

The growing problem of prescription drug addiction is one that is causing great concern. In the US, there has been a massive increase in the number of people developing crippling addictions to strong painkillers, and the government her wants to avoid such an epidemic. They have now ordered Public Health England (PHE) to conduct a review into why prescription drug abuse is on the rise.

The review is expected to take a year and will cover drugs such as sedatives known as benzodiazepines, painkillers known as opioids, and antidepressants. With GP data for England suggesting that addictive medication prescriptions have risen by three per cent in the past five years, there are concerns that something must be done sooner rather than later to avoid a full-scale epidemic, the likes of which has been seen in the US.

Steve Brine, Public Health Minister, said, “We know this is a huge problem in other countries like the United States – and we must absolutely make sure it doesn’t become one here. While we are world-leading in offering free treatment for addiction, we cannot be complacent.”

Rosanna O’Conner, the director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco at PHE, said, “It is of real concern that so many people find themselves dependent on or suffering withdrawal symptoms from prescribed medicines. Many will have sought help for a health problem only to find later on they have a further obstacle to overcome.”

How Does Prescription Drug Addiction Develop?

One of the biggest problems with prescription drugs is the fact that most people believe them to be safe. The fact that they are typically taken on the advice of a doctor gives individuals the impression that they are not harmful at all. However, abuse and even long-term use of prescription medication can lead to addiction.

Strong painkillers like opioids and sedative drugs such as benzodiazepines are available only on prescription precisely because they can be so dangerous. Most people do not realise that addiction can happen quite quickly. It usually begins with an increased tolerance to the drug. Once the body gets used to its presence, it will adjust its production of feel-good chemicals.

Nevertheless, the result of this is that the user will believe that the medication is not working as it did in the beginning. Moreover, because the person believes the medication to be completely safe, he or she may not see the harm in taking a few more pills.

Unfortunately, abuse of prescription drugs is what usually leads to full-blown addiction. But what often happens is that those who abuse prescription medication, do not realise they have become physically dependent until their supply of medication runs out.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction Like?

It is easy to see why prescription drug abuse is on the rise. With more prescription medication being prescribed, there is bound to be a higher incidence of abuse and addiction. This is because these drugs have a high potential for abuse.

As well as those who unwittingly abuse prescription medications, there are others who deliberately take them for recreational purposes. A physical dependence to these drugs can occur quite quickly and can cause those affected to feel an uncontrollable need for their medication. If you are worried about yourself or someone you love, the following will give you some idea of what to look out for:

  • Requesting regular replacement of prescriptions because of ‘lost’ pills
  • Taking more pills than advised to by a doctor
  • Spending large amounts of time under the influence of medication
  • Doctor shopping – visiting different doctors to get more medication
  • Using prescription medication that was prescribed for another person
  • Becoming irritable when getting near to the end of a prescription
  • Trying to source prescription drugs over the internet or from street dealers.

If you believe you might have a prescription drug addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. This is an illness that will not go away without treatment. If you are taking more pills than you were advised to by your doctor because you feel that you ‘need’ them, it is likely that you have a physical addiction. If so, you may need to complete a detox before you can begin rehabilitation treatment.

Overcoming a Prescription Drug Addiction

The idea of detox and rehabilitation might seem alien to you, particularly if you have never touched an illegal substance in your life. Nonetheless, detox and rehab can help a number of illnesses, including a prescription drug addiction.

You should also remember that you are not alone and that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem and it is only with education that more people will not end up struggling in the same way that you have been.

Even so, you do not have to continue struggling with your illness; help is available. Depending on the prescription drug you have been abusing, it could be necessary for you to taper off your dosage initially to help prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. The safest place for this to happen is in a detox facility.

Detoxing from drugs can be a complicated process and careful supervision is necessary. With a carefully managed detox programme, you should be completely safe at all times and the entire process will be more comfortable.

Withdrawing from any chemical substance can cause several physical and mental symptoms. These symptoms are usually the result of the brain and body trying to get back to normal. The type and severity of your symptoms will depend on the type of substance you have been abusing, how long you have been using it for, and how severe your addiction was. Underlying medical problems and age can also be a factor.

After about a week to ten days, you should be ready to begin a programme of rehabilitation in either an inpatient or outpatient facility. Where you get treatment for addiction will usually depend on a few factors. For the most part, the NHS and charities provide outpatient programmes. When it comes to inpatient programmes though, you are almost certainly going to have to use a private clinic.

Your choice of provider will usually depend on how severe your addiction is as well as your personal preferences and circumstances. For example, if you are keen to get started on your treatment right away, you might prefer a private clinic as providers of free programmes such as charities and the NHS usually have long waiting lists. The demands placed upon these providers are quite high and as such they often struggle to keep up.

Another consideration is how quickly you want to complete your treatment. With an inpatient programme, your treatment will usually be condensed over a period of between six and twelve weeks. This is the fastest approach to addiction recovery and treatment is concentrated and intense.

Outpatient programmes take place over a longer period and the slower pace means that required treatment hours are less each week. How you want to recovery is entirely up to you but if you would like help finding a suitable provider for your needs, please do not hesitate to call UK Rehab today. 

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