The number of Americans having problems with drug addiction is on the upswing. The most known category of addictive prescription medications are opioids, which might be mainly because of the somewhat careless prescribing practices of some doctors.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of patients that visit doctors clinics with complaints of noncancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses (both severe and chronic) leave their trip with an opioid prescription.
In 2012, prescribers gave a total of 259 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers — which translates to sufficient drugs for each adult in the United States to have their very own bottle of pills.
While opioid prescriptions per capita rose 7.3 percent from 2007 to 2012 — with opioid prescription rates growing more within the family practice, general practice, and internal medicine compared with different settings. Rates of opioid prescribing differ significantly across states in ways that can’t be credited to the populace’s actual health. This trend spotlights the lack of consensus among clinicians about how best to use prescription painkillers. Globally, the amount of prescriptions written for painkillers has catapulted from roughly 76 million in 1991 to almost 203 million in 2013.
Approximately 15,000 people die each year because of an overdose involving painkillers. Furthermore, about 12 million Americans aged 12 or older reported inapplicable and nonmedical painkillers in 2010. This turns to one in every 20 people in America.
As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most commonly abused therapeutic drug categories include prescription pain medications (opioids), central nervous system (CNS) depressants used for anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants for ADHD and narcolepsy.
NIDA cites these drugs as some of the more abused in their respective categories:
CNS — This kind of medication includes:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)
Opioids –– Common kinds of opioids include:
- Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Propoxyphene (Darvon)
Stimulants — Common stimulants are:
- Amphetamines (Adderall)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta)
Physical pain is among the most frequent complaints from patients. A recent poll conducted by the National Institute of Health Statistics showed lower back pain is the top cause of pain (27%). At the same time, acute migraines/headaches(cluster headaches) account for 15 percent, neck pain for 15 percent, and facial pain/ache(trigeminal neuralgia) for 4 percent.
Statistics from the American Academy of Pain Medication reveals that more Americans suffer from chronic pain than diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer included. 100 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic pain, while 11.9 million, 25.8 million, 23.3 million and Americans suffer from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (heart attacks/stroke), respectively.
As per the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 1.9 million Americans ages 12 or older suffered from an addiction to prescription pain medication. 586,000 others were hooked on heroin. NIDA estimates imply that approximately 23% of people using heroin end up developing an opioid addiction since prescription painkillers affect the same brain regions as many illegal drugs.
Notably, the CDC purports that opioid abuse may disproportionately affect women because this population is more likely to find expert relief and ask for pain medication for their condition. Those prescriptions usually are for higher doses and last for longer than those of their male counterparts. The mortality rate among girls for prescription opioid overdose has quadrupled since 1999.
Beyond Chronic pain, the topmost debilitating medical conditions include:
- Post-surgical pain
- Kidney stones
- Peripheral neuropathy, which can be a complication of diabetes
- Cancer pain — the most excruciating cancers are pancreatic cancer, brain tumors, and sarcoma.
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Postherpetic neuralgia — this nerve pain lingers in some patients after they have had the shingles. It’s reportedly challenging to deal with.
- Interstitial cystitis — an infected bladder
The notion that everybody who chooses a prescription painkiller to get a long enough period will become an addict is an outright myth. However, developing an addiction or physical dependence is possible. You may prevent prescription dependence, and there are particular precautions pain sufferers can take to be sure this risk remains low.
Steps To Avoid Prescription Drug Addiction
1. Do Not Keep Old Medications For Potential Future Use
Many individuals are unsure how to reduce prescription medication abuse in their house, and too often, the home cabinet is where drug abusers get their start. Actually, 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain drugs report receiving them from family or friends. You can avoid this problem by taking care not to hoard unused prescription pain medicines. Failing to adequately dispose of unfinished medications can have dire effects.
A study printed at the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association examined information from Medicare Advantage members with Part D coverage to ascertain which prescription drugs patients often left unused. Of the 247 specific prescription drugs reportedly left unused, the top therapeutic categories were:
- Pain medications (15 percent )
- Hypertension medications (14 percent )
- Antibiotics (11 percent )
- Psychiatric disorders (9%)
Broken down, what’s more, the researchers found that just 11 percent of unused prescription medications were disposed of through medication take-back programs, while 55 percent were left in the home medicine cabinet, 14 percent were discarded in the garbage, and 9 percent were flushed down the toilet. When taken advantage of, medication take-back programs can help parents protect their kids from the temptation of unused drugs left around the home.
In April 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) organized its 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and Americans rose to the event by dropping off 447 million tons of unwanted drugs. Some of the most common medications implicated in pharmaceutical drug overdose deaths are methadone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. Most of them are obtained from home medicine cabinets, family members, and friends. Drug overdoses are currently the primary cause of injury-related deaths, having now surpassed motor vehicle accidents.
In this National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the top five states with the largest collections were:
- Illinois (24 tons)
- Texas (40 tons)
- Massachusetts (24 tons)
- Wisconsin (31 tons)
- California (32 tons)
The DEA and more than 4,200 of its state, tribal, and local law enforcement partners gathered 893,498 pounds of unused, expired, or unwanted prescription drugs at nearly 5,400 sites across all 50 states. This year’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is on Oct 24, 2020.
2. Follow Instruction Given With Your Medications Exactly
It’s critical for people with any medical condition to attempt to stick to their doctor’s drug instructions as closely as possible. Despite this advice, lots of men and women don’t follow their physicians’ instructions.
Frequent causes of this include:
- People may begin feeling better and decide they no longer want the medication.
- Life sometimes gets in the way and makes it increasingly challenging to consider the prescribed schedule. This is particularly true when taking multiple prescription drugs at different times of the day or taking a medication on a nontraditional program, like once a week.
- People become impatient when they do not experience immediate relief from their symptoms, which may make them stop taking their drugs because they “do not work.”
- Lots of people are confused as to what to do if they forget or skip a dose.
- Some drugs are cost-prohibitive, which may cause some patients to pick up and take their prescription medication on an irregular basis.
To minimize the risk of addiction, specifically, your prescribing health provider should evaluate your family history of drug addiction or abuse before prescribing a psychiatric medicine and tracking patients prescribed such medications. They should also instruct you about the possible risks to understand the consequences of not following the drug instructions carefully and disposing of them properly.
Even the most potent opioids aren’t always able to completely eliminate pain, and several folks develop tolerance with time. One very unfortunate misconception is that the more a medication you take, the more effective it’ll manage your symptoms.
If you’re a legitimate pain patient, you need always be honest with your doctor about your distress levels and take your painkillers specifically as they are prescribed to you. Do not wait until your pain worsens since this might increase your probability of abusing medication later on.
Individuals who are worried about becoming addicted to these drugs may attempt to wait to take them until their pain becomes almost unbearable. This is also not good because this behavior could cause you to finally break down and eat more pills than is needed. It’s a much safer idea to take the drugs as recommended by your health professional.
The bottom line is never to cease or change your dosing without first consulting with your physician.
3. Ask About Other Less Habit-Forming Medications
Many health conditions have prescription drug options with a lower risk for dependency development. By way of instance, there are non-stimulant choices for treating ADHD. ADHD-specific non-stimulants, such as atomoxetine (Strattera), clonidine ER (Kapvay), and guanfacine ER (Intuniv), are specially formulated to deal with the disease and have received FDA approval for this specific indication.
Similarly, some blood pressure medications may also help some people control ADHD. This is because many of them have the exact same active ingredient as the above ADHD-specific non-stimulants. Some antidepressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), nortriptyline (Aventyl), and desipramine (Norpramin), have been proven to be effective in managing ADHD by helping to change the balance of chemicals in the brain. They’re also valuable for folks with ADHD and comorbid depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder.
For ailments treated with CNS (central nervous system) drugs, such as sleep or anxiety disorders, you can try many treatment avenues if you are trying to avoid the addictive properties of those depressants. You may try sipping chamomile tea, try to get between one and three gms of omega-3s every day, take lavender aromatherapy, use melatonin to help you sleep, and be sure that you get out for at least 15 minutes of sunlight every day.
Also, the American Academy of Family Physicians suggests that 35% to 44% of people coming to their doctor with sleep problems are, in fact, experiencing insomnia because of an underlying cause. These underlying issues can include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Urinary incontinence
- Restless legs syndrome
By treating one of those underlying conditions, you may have the ability to avoid taking CNS drugs completely.
The most notorious prescription medications concerning dependence risk potential are, as stated earlier, opioids. Even though it’s true that many pain treatment regimens involve the use of opioids, consideration of non-opioid methods for pain management can beneficial amid risks. There are additional pharmacologic options you can pursue if you fear dependence.
Alternative Treatment options for managing acute pain include:
- IV Ibuprofen (Caldolor)
- IV Acetaminophen (Ofirmev)
Alternative Treatment options to relieve chronic pain include:
- Serotonin or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Anticonvulsants gabapentin and pregabalin (Lyrica)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
4. Consider If Or Not You Still Want Your Medicines
However, you should take your medications as prescribed. It’s still imperative that you ask yourself a few questions before following another refill:
- Are my symptoms severe enough to interfere with my general function?
- When do my symptoms happen, and are there any noticeable causes?
- Is there anything about my life? Will I change to better reduce my symptoms?
- Am I taking the minimum possible dose to alleviate my symptoms while avoiding a poor side effect profile?
Certain prescription drug classes aren’t intended for long-term use due to their addictive potential. By way of example, you might be given a benzodiazepine such as alprazolam (Xanax) or diazepam (Valium) to help you manage your anxiety, acute stress reactions, or anxiety attacks. Benzodiazepines with stronger sedative properties, such as triazolam (Halcion) and estazolam (ProSom), are often prescribed for only short-term treatment of sleep disorders. Just because your prescriber fails to taper off you these drugs doesn’t mean they’re safe for extended use.
5. Seek Help If You Experience Prescription Drug Addiction
You can stop prescription drug addiction by recognizing the signs and knowing when to seek expert treatment. In case you have a loved one you guess might be getting addicted to or physically dependent on their pain medications, it is essential to recognize the tell-tale signs. These signs can include:
- Refilling a prescription before the refill date.
- Stating the prescription has been missing.
- Visiting many prescribers to obtain the drugs
- Requesting a particular painkiller by name
- Going to the emergency department between planned doctor’s appointments to get more of this medication
- Asking others to take their medications
Meanwhile, you must also attempt to keep self-awareness and recognize whether you are developing an addiction. Signs you might already be hooked or on your way to physical dependency include:
- Your medicines became the middle of your thoughts.
- You continue to take the medication despite any demonstrated harmful effects on your physical health, psychological well-being, or your own relationships.
- You do not have control over when, where, and how much of the medication you use.
- You become dishonest about your usage with the folks in your life and experience feelings of guilt or remorse when you’re using.
- You begin isolating yourself from your loved ones that do not use the medication.
If this is the case, your best solution is to find help at a treatment facility from professionals trained to see you during such a stressful time. You must understand that prescription drug addiction detox is hazardous for yourself. You should only detox under the guidance of the health staff.
Natural Alternative Pain Relievers
Additionally, there are a few natural remedies that may help alleviate pain which could decrease your requirement for a prescription painkiller and avoiding a potential drug addiction:
Many patients living with pain and searching for an alternative to prescription painkillers turn to massages. In actuality, a 2008 survey by the American Massage Therapy Association indicates that approximately 21 percent of people in the US had at least one massage in the prior year, while almost 25 percent have turned to massage therapy to alleviate their pain symptoms at least once during their lifetime.
As one of the world’s oldest pain relief methods, massaging helps boost serotonin productions — that functions as one of the anti-pain hormones in the body. Massaging can also increase the amount of deep restorative sleep you can attain, which reduces pain immensely. These benefits might be enough to lower your need for prescription opioids.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The idea behind CBT is that if you’re able to learn how to handle your body’s thoughts and feelings, you can even learn how to control the way your body experiences pain. Overall, the key facets of a successful CBT program for providing pain relief would be:
- Encouraging a proactive way to approaching problems. An integral component in this is removing the concept of helplessness. You can do something about your pain. You do have a level of control over how you’re feeling.
- Promoting homework. Implementing skills learned in CBT out of treatment sessions is imperative to ensuring those skills become a part of your regular routine.
- Fostering life skills — specifically, coping mechanisms that can be applied to dealing with bouts of the path or some other tribulations that may come your way.
- Provides you with the confidence and tools you want to keep up pain control after you quit visiting the CBT therapist.
Acupuncture is a fairly common way to deal with physical pain. In actuality, 3.5 million Americans report having tried acupuncture over the last year. After completing certain physical evaluation tests, the acupuncturist recommends a specific treatment. You then lie on a table while exact needles are gently placed from the affected regions. The needles stay in place for anywhere between five and 30 minutes.
Many Individuals report feeling comfortable during and after treatment. As an added benefit, many insurance plans cover the cost of acupuncture, and it’s proven effective in relieving other ailments, such as:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Dysentery, acute bacillary
- Malposition of fetus, correction
- Morning sickness
- Hypertension and hypotension
Acupuncture, though, it is not for everybody. The procedure might be harmful to specific patient populations, including individuals with pacemakers, who have a higher risk of developing a disease, suffer from chronic skin difficulties, or are pregnant. Always discuss with a physician before following an acupuncture treatment regimen.
Other nonpharmacologic treatment options for pain include:
Herbal remedies and nutritional supplements — specific herbs and supplements can help reduce the inflammation, which exacerbates pain, vitamin D, such as omega-3 fish oil supplements, and anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric.