No one really decides to get addicted to prescription drugs. Why would they? The end result of a prescription drug addiction is the alienation of family and friends, failing at work and launching a small time or big time criminal career. This isn’t the plan of anyone when they get their first prescription from their doctor. So how does prescription drug addiction happen?
What is the progression of prescription drug addiction?
One in five Americans report misusing a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime and the majority of them put the pills away with nothing major happening. So how does prescription drug abuse progress into a full blown prescription drug addiction?
A doctor at the University of Washington, Andrew Saxon, MD, says it may have something to do with the genetic predisposition to addiction. “There’s something different in their brains to begin with,” and prolonged drug abuse likely creates further chemical changes. For people born with a predisposition to addiction taking prescription drugs can lead to an intense rush that makes the brain want more and more. Repeating this euphoric rush or high reinforces the cycle of drug use and sets the perfect stage for a prescription drug addiction.
This progression of prescription drug addiction usually begins with prescription drug dependence. Prescription drug dependence occurs because of normal adaptations to chronic us e of prescription drugs and is not the same as addiction. Addiction which can include physical dependence is differentiated from dependence by the compulsive drug seek behavior and use despite negative consequences. Someone who takes a prescription drug normally or every day will develop a physical dependence regardless if they have a predisposition to addiction or not. It is the person with addiction potential or who does not stop and progresses from the point of prescription drug dependence into that compulsive drug seeking behavior despite negative consequences that has a prescription drug addiction.
The progression of prescription drug addiction always begins with dependence though and dependence is usually characterized by what is known as a tolerance. A tolerance means that an individual has to take higher doses of the medication in order to achieve the same effect. When tolerance occurs it can be difficult for a doctor to know whether the patient is developing a drug problem or actually needs the medication. For this reason many people who are well on their way into a prescription drug addiction continue getting the drugs that are hurting them. The availability of prescription drugs today definitely plays a factor into people progressing into a prescription drug addiction.
Prescription drugs are tricky because there is a medical necessity for them sometimes but many of them such as painkillers, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines are highly addictive and can easily lead someone down the road of addiction and the road in addiction is not a pretty one. Prescription drug addiction causes many people to do things for their drugs that they wouldn’t do otherwise. The good thing is though there is a way to get off the medication and to overcome prescription drug addiction today. There are detox facilities and outpatient programs that specialize specifically in getting individuals off of prescription medications.