Prescription Drug Addiction
People are prescribed opiates, stimulants and depressants every day to treat a number of ailments. In fact, it’s become common for people to demand prescriptions at the end of their doctors’ visits, and the number of prescriptions filled each year seems to grow and grow as a result. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that over 3 billion prescriptions were filled in pharmacies in 2011, and there’s no sign that the number will decrease in the near future. While prescription medications can be amazingly helpful, and many people can take these drugs with the advice of their doctors and never suffer any sort of ill effects, many other people can develop addictions to the prescription drugs they take. Although the ultimate goal of eliminating the primary problem is achieved, a prescription drug addiction is left behind. Recovering from an addiction alone can be incredibly difficult, as the urge to use might always be lurking in the background waiting to strike, by getting help, women can recover from these devastating problems and get back on their feet once more.
Understanding the Process
Prescription drug addictions don’t develop the first moment that a person takes in a prescription medication. In fact, prescription drug addictions often develop quite slowly, in ways that are insidious and difficult for people to detect. This may mean that an addiction can “sneak up” on people who weren’t aware that they were in danger.
Dependence is considered one of the first steps in addiction. Someone who is dependent on a substance has endured chemical changes within the body that make abrupt cessation of use difficult, if not impossible. Depending upon the prescription and the dose, some people can develop a physical dependence upon prescription drugs in as little as a week. After that, should these people try to quit abruptly, they will experience withdrawal symptoms as their bodies undergo a detox process. While a dependence on a drug might sound alarming, the truth is that the condition is not considered dangerous by most medical professionals. In fact, according to an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, physical dependence on a drug is considered “normal” for anyone who takes a drug that impacts the central nervous system. Human bodies were designed to adjust to the presence of drugs, so bodies that have adjusted shouldn’t be considered abnormal in any way.
Dependence can sometimes transition into addiction, however, as dependence can lock people into a pattern of using drugs just to stave of physical pain caused by dependence. Over time, they may find that their use of drugs is compulsive and out of their control. They simply must take the drugs, even if they don’t really like them anymore and they don’t like how they feel while they’re on drugs. When use moves from a person’s conscious control in this manner, addiction has taken hold.
No one particular addiction treatment will work for everyone without exception. For that reason, The Orchid provides a wide array of therapeutic options that allows clients to choose from alternative and traditional approaches and create a unique treatment plan unlike any other. This is a brief outline of some of the approaches we use to help women who are struggling with addictions to specific types of prescription medications.
According to an article published in the English paper The Daily Mail, one in three women have taken antidepressants at least once in their lives, and about 48 percent of women who are currently taking the drug have done so for at least five years. Should these women choose to stop taking these drugs, there’s one thing they should remember: Don’t stop taking them alone. Doing so throws the body into automatic detox and with it comes withdrawal symptoms that are potentially life threatening. Antidepressants keep the mind in a calm and sedated state through the use of powerful chemical reactions. When those chemical reactions are lifted and the brain is allowed to function at a normal rate, seizures can be the result. It’s simply too dangerous for women to go through this alone.
In a formal treatment program for depressant abuse, medical staff watch patients closely and provide medical treatment should symptoms of severe withdrawal begin to arise. But, physical detox is not enough. If therapists don’t tend to the multiple layers of prescription drug addiction, it won’t be long until patients fall back into old habits. For this reason, therapy is an essential part of depressant addiction treatment. Here, women are given the opportunity to:
- Learn more about how the addiction began
- Understand how the addiction has changed the way they think
- Learn how to cope with stress, pain and loss without using drugs
- Develop strong defenses so they aren’t tempted to relapse to drug use
When it comes to depressant addiction and rehabilitation, The Orchid is here to help. The first few days of care are devoted to physical well-being with little in the way of emotional, mental and spiritual therapies. Top priority is given to health, to make sure that women are healthy and that they aren’t enduring any side effects as their bodies adjust to functioning normally without the presence of drugs. When women are feeling calmer, and symptoms seem to have passed, women can take on more internal exploration little by little, participating in therapy sessions and other treatments in order to help the recovery process move forward.
Stimulant medications are often provided to people with mental health issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But, women might become interested in taking these drugs as they might believe that these medications can help them stay alert, awake and aware. Women who work in demanding, difficult jobs in which perfection is expected 24/7 might become hooked on stimulants in their quest to get ahead and be noticed. Some women develop these addictions in college, due to the academic pressures they face. According to a study in the Journal of American College Health, about 8 percent of college undergraduates reported using stimulants, and while men were more likely than women to do so, their reasons for using them were the same. In a high-pressure world, stimulants might seem like an enticing option.
People who attempt to stop taking stimulants may face symptoms of withdrawal, although those symptoms tend to be intense on an emotional level rather than a physical level. Many people find that they feel low, sad and unmotivated when they don’t have access to the drugs they once took. Overwhelming depression and fatigue symptoms like this make it difficult for people to handle their own detoxification and recovery programs. They may revert to drug use simply to make the symptoms stop.
At The Orchid, administrators have developed a variety of tools to help women get through these symptoms and remain motivated to complete the necessary steps to achieve long-term recovery. Women have the opportunity to participate in a number of different treatments and therapies like:
- Art therapy
- Support groups
- One-on-one weekly therapy sessions
These treatments may help women to understand how their addictions developed, and they may give women access to helpful outlets for their creativity and their emotions as they begin to heal. Women can set their own pace for recovery too. Whether women choose inpatient or outpatient options, they find a strong group of women, both peers and on staff, who will provide a safe and nonjudgmental support system as they begin to work toward sobriety.
The first order of business in opiate addiction is detox. Addicts must be free from the drug physically before they can focus on recovery, and the debilitating withdrawal symptoms that accompany opiate detox are often enough to deter women from attempting to regain control of their bodies and their lives. While detoxification symptoms are rarely considered life threatening, women who feel these debilitating physical symptoms may be tempted to return to drug use simply because they’d like to make the symptoms stop. Many women describe withdrawal using terms that are similar to terms women would use to describe the flu, although opiate addicts know that they can just take a pill and make their “flu” go away. It can be quite enticing, but medications and therapy can help women to overcome this temptation and see the detoxification process through to completion.
Once detoxification is completed, women then need to enter therapy programs for addiction, so they can better learn how to control their symptoms and keep their addictions from recurring once more. The therapy techniques used in opiate addiction aren’t radically different than the techniques used for any other prescription drug addiction, but the risks might be higher. For example, a study in BMJ found that opiate addicts were at a high risk of overdosing on drugs in the weeks immediately following their addiction treatment. People left their clinics, went back to their homes, and used incredibly high doses of drugs, even though their bodies were no longer accustomed to such high doses, and overdose was the result. For this reason, most addiction programs for opiate addiction ensure that patients are committed to their recovery, and unlikely to relapse to drug use, before they’re considered ready to leave the facility.
Sometimes, addicted women need a little more time in a sober environment before they feel ready to go home to their communities and live a sober lifestyle without being tempted to revert to drug use. Sober living communities might be a good option for these women, as they’ll have the opportunity to live with other women who are also in recovery, and who won’t be using drugs in their presence.
At The Orchid, we can help women through the rough parts of drug detox and follow it up immediately with holistic treatment options in a personalized treatment plan that we update and expand each week as addicts grow and heal. We also offer extensive aftercare programs, including a sober living community, and this can be quite helpful for women who need to recover from an opiate addiction.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment at The Orchid
The treatment options and therapies offered at The Orchid are chosen based on their efficacy with women in particular. In the case of prescription drug addiction, this is especially important, as research shows that women are more likely than men to be prescribed drugs. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 14.3 prescriptions were filled annually per capita by women in 2011, compared to 9.7 for men. Since women tend to go to the doctor more often than men do, it only follows that they would receive more prescriptions for drugs than men do, and perhaps they would develop more addictions than their male counterparts would. Since addictions like this are so common in women, it’s all the more important for women to access gender-specific techniques that could help them to heal and leave these addictions behind.
If you are a woman struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, or you are concerned about a woman in your life who is dealing with this problem, contact The Orchid today by phone at 1-888-672-4435.