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What is Prescription Drug Addiction?


The issue of addiction is one that affects countless individuals across the world, but it is a very much misunderstood illness. In fact, many people do not even believe it to be an illness at all, seeing it more as a lifestyle choice or a consequence of bad behaviour. There are others who believe that addiction refers only to those who use illegal drugs, when in reality though all mood-altering substances can cause addiction. This means that prescription medication can also be addictive and there is a growing number of people around the UK affected by this illness. However, what is prescription drug addiction?

The idea that prescription medication can be dangerous is difficult for many to comprehend. They struggle to accept the notion that pills prescribed by medical professionals could be anything other than safe. The truth, however, is that prescription medication can be harmful when abused or when taken over an extended period.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, addiction is:

The need or strong desire to do or to have something, or a very strong liking for something.

Any pattern of behaviour that causes harm to the life of an individual can be classed as an addiction. So, while it is possible to become addicted to substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol, it is just as easy to become addicted to prescription medication.

Basically, when the use of prescription drugs starts to have a negative impact on day-to-day life, it is said to be addictive.

Do You Have a Prescription Drug Addiction?

Those who have never used illegal drugs would probably be horrified at the suggestion that they have a drug addiction. Nevertheless, prescription drugs can change how you feel and can affect the brain in many ways. Just like other mood-altering substances, prescription drugs affect the brain’s pleasure and reward centres; in some individuals, the change can be quite dramatic.

If your loved ones are concerned about your changing behaviour and have suggested that you may have a problem, you might then start wondering what is prescription drug addiction and could you possibly be affected by it.

It is important to consider your use of prescription drugs to establish if you need help. Have you been taking your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor? Or have you begun taking higher doses without your doctor’s advice? If so, this may be because you have built up a tolerance to the effects of the medication.

A tolerance to prescription drugs can occur quite quickly in some people. It means that the medication they are taking no longer has the same effect that it did when they first started to take it. This happens because the brain and body adapt to the drugs and fewer dopamine chemicals are released. Dopamine are the ‘feel-good’ chemicals released by the brain when we do something pleasurable.

In the case of mood-altering substances, the brain will release dopamine chemicals when the substance is taken. However, over time, the amount of these chemicals released will decrease as the body adapts. The result of this is that the medication might feel as though it is not working anymore. When this happens, it is common for the person to increase the amount of medication he or she is taking.

Some will take higher doses of medication while others will increase the frequency with which they take their pills. Doing either can lead to physical dependence, which is more often than not followed by a crippling addiction. Nonetheless, it must be mentioned that even those who take their medication exactly as directed by their doctor are at risk of addiction. Prescription medication is highly addictive and as such should only be used over a short period of time, unless a doctor deems the benefits to outweigh the risks.

Think about your use of prescription medication – are you taking more than you used to? Do you feel irritable when in need of your medication? Are you neglecting responsibilities at home or at work because of how the medication is making you feel?

If you have answered yes to the above questions, you may need to speak to someone about your use of prescription drugs.

Can You Overcome Prescription Drug Addiction?

When thinking about the question of what is prescription drug addiction, your thoughts might also turn to how to overcome such an illness. If you have been taking medication to treat a long-term medical condition, you may be worried about how you will cope if you are to stop taking your pills.

If you are addicted to your medication, it is important that you speak to your doctor about alternative ways of treating your illness. If your use of prescription drugs is affecting your day to day life, it is essential that you do something to rectify your situation as soon as possible.

Thankfully, a prescription drug addiction is not something that you have to continue living with. It is possible to overcome this illness with help from counsellors and therapists. For free assessments and referrals, you can get in touch with us here at Addiction.org.uk. We can assess your situation before recommending potential treatment providers in your area.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Like?

The type of treatment programme that is right for you will depend on how long you have been addicted to your medication and how severe your illness is. It may be the case that an outpatient programme will be sufficient, provided you have plenty of support at home.

On the other hand, you could have a severe addiction that requires a physical detox followed by an inpatient programme of rehabilitation.

In either case, you can expect counsellors and therapists to work closely with you to help you get to the root cause of your illness before teaching you how to identify your triggers so that you can avoid a return to this addictive behaviour in the future.

Rehabilitation programmes in an inpatient clinic are structured and intensive. You will stay in the facility for between six and twelve weeks, depending on what your needs are and on how you progress during your treatment.

What Happens After Rehab?

If you do require treatment for prescription drug addiction, you may be wondering about what will happen afterwards. Many people worry that they will be unable to cope with the return to normal everyday life and fear that they will find themselves back on the path to addiction once more.

The good news is that there is plenty of support available within the addiction recovery community. You will never be left alone to get on with your recovery. Support is available not only from your rehab provider, but also from local support groups.

What are Fellowship Support Groups Like?

You may have already heard of fellowship support groups in the past. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two of the most well-known support groups for those recovering from addiction. The basic principle of these support groups is that members come together to share their stories and experiences in a bid to help each other stay sober.

Mutual support groups offer recovering addicts a place where they can form friendships with like-minded individuals who all have the same goal. The environment is non-judgmental and compassionate and encourages you to be completely honest with yourself and others.

One of the biggest benefits of joining such a group is that you can learn from the mistakes of others. You can also learn all about living in recovery and how to socialise with others without using mood-altering chemicals.

Accessing Help for Addiction

If you need help for addiction, please contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. Our friendly advisors can provide helpful advice and information about prescription drug addiction as well as how to access help from treatment providers in your area.

Our dedicated helpline is available 24-hours a day, or you can get in touch with us via this website. Please call today for further information about how to overcome your addiction for good.

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