Drug Rehab Center: Treatment for Abuse and Addiction
Prescription drugs are increasingly
taken as primary drugs of abuse. Patients and users underestimate
the dangers of abuse and addiction, as drugs like OxyContin® are
not illegal and don’t carry the same stigma as heroin and
Over $78 billion in prescription and over-the-counter drugs are
produced each year in the United States. A significant number
of people take them without a doctor's prescription or uses more
There are three classes of commonly Abused Prescription Drugs:
1. Opioids – primarily
used for treating pain, include: Morphine, Codeine, OxyContin® (Oxycodone),
Vicodin® (Hydrocodone), Dilaudid® (Hydromorphone), Demerol® (Meperidine),
When opioid drugs are abused, they can also cause feelings of
euphoria by affecting the brain regions that control pleasure.
Opioids are powerfully addictive. Tolerance, physical dependence,
and addiction can result from long-term use of opioids. Abusers
experience withdrawal when they reduce or stop using the opioid,
making it impossible to quit by themselves. Withdrawal symptoms
include: Restlessness, Muscle and bone pain, Insomnia, Diarrhea,
Vomiting, Cold flashes with goose bumps, Involuntary leg movements.
Despite the potent addictive qualities and dangers of abuse
of opioids, when medical use of opioids is properly managed,
they are safe, rarely leading to addiction and providing effective
pain management. Opioids should not be combined with other drugs
except when supervised by a doctor.
2. Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants – barbiturates
and benzodiazepines are prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders.
The following drugs are benzodiazepines:
Chlorazepate® (Tranxene), Ativan®, Alzapam® (Lorazepam),
Serax® (Oxazepam), Centrax® (Prazepam), Librium® (Chlordiazepoxide),
Paxipam® (Halazepam), Halcion® (Triazolam), Klonopin® (Clonazepam),
Dalmane®, Durapam® (Flurazepam), Restoril®, Razepam® (Temazepam),
Possible side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness,
poor coordination and light-headedness. Overuse of benzodiazepines
can lead to respiratory difficulties, sleeplessness, coma and
even death. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and
Valium, can take months - some patients have reported withdrawal
symptoms lasting years. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can produce
terrible mental and physical effects.
Barbiturates such as mephobarbital (Mebaral®) and pentobarbital
sodium (Nembutal®) are prescribed to treat anxiety, tension,
and sleep disorders. If improperly used, barbiturates can cause
an individual to feel depressed or experience respiratory difficulties,
in addition to physical and psychological dependence.
Some Barbiturate are Amobarbital
Secobarbital (Seconal®), Tuinal (amobarbital/secobarbital
combination), Butalbital (Fiorina®), Butabarbital (Butisol®),
Talbutal (Lotusate®), Aprobarbital (Alurate®)
Most CNS depressants decrease brain activity and produces drowsiness
or a calm feeling.
When beginning a prescribed treatment using barbiturates or benzodiazepines,
the patient may feel drowsy and clumsy. However, after a few
days, the body adapts to the presence of the CNS depressants
and these side effects fade away. The body can continue to adapt
to the drug over time, creating tolerance, so more and more of
the drug is required to produce the desired effects. Withdrawal
from CNS depressants can be very dangerous – stopping use
of the drug may cause the brain’s activity to skyrocket
as it goes from depressed to overactive, potentially resulting
in seizures. No one should try to quit without medical supervision.
The dose must be reduced gradually through detoxification.
3. Stimulants – used to treat sleep
disorder narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), and obesity.
Students studying long hours, athletes who think their performance
can improve from drugs, and workers who want to stay awake on
the job often use stimulants.
Some stimulants that may be prescribed
include: Dexedrine® (dextroamphetamine),
Ritalin® (methylphenidate), Adderall® (d-amphetamine
and amphetamine mixture).
Currently, physicians prescribe stimulants in treatment of only
a few health conditions such as narcolepsy, attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression that has not responded
to other treatments. Stimulants also provide suppression of appetite
for short-term treatment of obesity. Stimulants are also sometimes
used in treatment of asthma.
Although stimulant use is not characterized by physical dependence
and risky withdrawal, stimulant abuse can be dangerous. Sometimes
users turn to stimulants compulsively, similar to an addiction.
Taking high doses of some stimulants over a short time can lead
to hostility and paranoia, in addition to high body temperatures
and an irregular heartbeat. Stimulants may present a risk of
cardiovascular failure or lethal seizures. Behavioral therapies
used for effectively treating cocaine or methamphetamine addiction
are useful in treating prescription stimulant addiction.
Physicians are in a position to not only prescribe drugs when
needed but they are often able to identify when prescription
drug abuse exists. They can then help patients get help for prescription
drug addictions. Physicians also must keep in mind that there
is a potential for their patient to be visiting other doctors
to obtain more of the prescription, as well. Pharmacists can
also help prevent prescription drug abuse by giving clear information
about how to take a medication appropriately, the effects of
the medication, and any possible drug interactions. Pharmacists
can help prevent prescription fraud or diversion by looking for
false or altered prescription forms.
Patients themselves can also take steps to prevent addiction
and abuse of prescription drugs. Directions should be followed
carefully for prescription drugs. It is also important to learn
about effects of the medication and potential interactions with
other drugs by reading all information provided by the pharmacist.
If it seems that a prescription is no longer working as you feel
it should, talk to your doctor.