How Does Prescription Drug Addiction Develop?

prescription drug addiction | transcend Recovery Community

Prescription drugs are meant to provide solutions to particularly debilitating diseases. They’re meant to be remedies and medicines, cures used in the treatment of serious disease and illness. However, they all carry some serious side effects from prescription drug addiction. The reason prescription drugs require a written prescription and cannot be bought over-the-counter is because of these side effects – in other words, you need a medical reason to buy drugs like these.

One of the most dangerous side effects in many prescription drugs is their tendency towards developing a serious prescription drug addiction. Drugs like Xanax, Codeine, Adderall and OxyContin have a problematic history regarding drug abuse and even overdose, and despite being meant to save people, they can often ruin lives.

Understanding the dangers of prescription drug addiction and learning how best to handle them can save you a world of trouble. Make no mistake – a pill is no less dangerous than a line of cocaine or a syringe full of heroin. One pill too many, and you can find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction (or worse). Here’s how it happens:


Why Prescription Drugs Can Be Addictive

There is an unfortunate misconception regarding drugs and morality. “Bad” drugs and “good” drugs are still drugs, and are still dangerous. Something as benign as drinking coffee can trigger a shift in behavior and even lead to an unhealthy fixation on caffeine. On the other hand, some people can casually smoke and drink on and off for years without ever feeling like they’re compelled to use a substance every day. The same is true of prescription drug addiction as well, but there are a number of drugs more potent than the rest.

Among the more addictive drugs, like opioids, stimulants and sedatives, a bottle of OxyContin can be just as dangerous as a small bag of heroin powder. Ultimately, could be described as regulated versions of existing “hard” drugs, including Adderall (amphetamines), Xanax (sedatives), and Codeine (opiates).

Just because doctors prescribe them to patients with certain conditions, does not make these drugs safe. Understanding the equivalency in addiction across all addictive substances helps in eliminating the needless stigma surrounding certain kinds of substance abuse, and helps us all come together as a country to recognize that an prescription drug addiction to pills and heroin is just as harmful, damaging and indiscriminate as an addiction to the crack pipe.

Why these prescription drug addiction is prevelent is another story. To understand why addictive substances still play a significant role in the treatment of many debilitating diseases, and to understand the dangers behind these substances, it’s important to go into detail on how the big three categories (painkillers, sedatives, stimulants) work.


The Dangers Of Prescription Drug Addiction

Opioids are drugs that tap into the brain’s opioid-receptors and induce a state of euphoria and painlessness. Most opioids are either synthetic in nature or are derived from opium, the latex juice of poppy seed pods. Opium itself was used as a drug for centuries, but it was in the 19th century when opium-derived medicines became popular to deal with pain. Morphine exploded in use, and was ultimately regulated in the 20th century when the full extent of its potency for addiction became apparent.

Today, opioids continue to be used in medicine to deal with both acute and chronic pain, being the most powerful and immediately effective painkillers available. However, while opioids like morphine deal with acute pain very quickly, research suggests that the nature of drug tolerance makes opioids much less effective for cases of chronic, recurring pain.

When prescription opioids blew up in the market back in the 80s and 90s, the number of people dying from overuse grew as well. As a result, the US began regulating the drug without putting into place the proper measures to deal with the prescription drug addiction itself. As a result, deaths grew even faster as many pulled away from prescription drugs and turned towards heroin and fentanyl instead.

Other prescription drugs are similarly dangerous. Sedatives like barbiturates are used as horse tranquilizers and in animal euthanasia, and in lower dosages can be used to induce a sense of calm (see: Valium, a brand of benzodiazepine). But even at low dosages, they’re prone to misuse and carry an inherent danger of overdose.

Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, can be similarly dangerous and addictive. There is an epidemic ongoing in college campuses wherein children, under the stress of completing their studies and maintaining some semblance of a social life, take amphetamines like Adderall to stay awake and cognitively prepared. Yet like other prescription drugs, Adderall is addictive and too much of it can lead to heart problems and death if you end up with a prescription drug addiction to it.


Should All Prescriptions Be Avoided?  

Banning all prescription drugs is not the answer. There are millions of Americans whose lives are made substantially better with these substances. Furthermore, many of the overdoses and cases of prescription drug addiction come through the availability of these drugs on the black market.
The most important thing is a proper education on the danger of pills and prescription medication. Adderall isn’t just a party favor or a study tool, it’s a seriously dangerous and easily abused drug. Similarly, helping those already struggling with addiction deal with their problem is key to saving countless lives and preventing more overdose deaths. That is the main goal of our New York, Houston, and  Los Angeles sober living homes.