The CDC Has classified prescription drug abuse as an “epidemic”. Nearly 1/3 of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time used a prescription drug for a non-medical purpose. The rate of death by overdose is greater than people who die in car accidents and many of those deaths are from prescription medications.
While these drugs may come from one’s doctor and they may in fact have a legitimate medical purpose, there are dangers and pitfalls that many people experience. It is a very common story that people started using these medications under the direction of their doctor only to find themselves abusing and then becoming dependent on them. What should you do in this instance, what simple actions can a person take?
- Talk to your doctor. This is an often-overlooked option. Doctors are bound, not only by ethical standards for confidentiality, but also health care law, so you are safe to discuss the issue with him or her.
- Be honest with yourself about your relationship with the medication. Does the thought of not having the medication cause you undue stress? Do you take more than the bottle says you should? Do you drink alcohol while on the medication when it clearly says not to?
- Stepping outside the boundaries of the prescription is in itself a pretty clear indication that something is off with your behavior.
- Ask your doctor for a referral to an addiction specialist. This could be a psychologist or a licensed social worker. It is certainly worth a conversation
So, you need to do something about it, what can you do?
- There are a variety of treatment experiences out there so doing SOME research is important but not to the point that you are immobilized.
- When you speak to a treatment center, ask about their detox protocols. There are varying philosophies about detox, some are invested in speed, others in comfort, and each medication has its own unique experience of detoxification. Additionally, your body is unique, the way your body responded to the drugs is equally individual and so too will be the detoxification process.
- Some people feel detox is all they need, which may or may not be true. Further treatment will more than likely be required and, if not critical, it won’t hurt your chances of staying off the drugs to take part in it.
- It is very common to minimize our use of drugs; “I only took the pain killers after my car accident” but MOST people who become dependent become dependent on many levels, physical as well as emotional. Be honest about your need to take the drugs.
- Ask what types of addictions are treated.
- Will I still be able to have a glass of wine? This is an important question to ask the treatment center. If their answer is “Sure, drink up!” or “No, you have a disease!” you need to decide for yourself where you fit. Maybe somewhere in the middle?
- How will I manage pain if I don’t take my painkillers? This is a great question to ask. Pain management is different for everyone but if you have made the decision to stop using prescription drugs, it is something you need to know the answer to.
Finding appropriate treatment for a prescription drug problem is not an easy task. It may take some effort and research but help is available and getting off inappropriate medication is possible.