Prescription Medication Addiction
One of the steepest barriers to people entering treatment for prescription medications is the belief that if a medical doctor has prescribed it, that it cannot be harmful. However, addiction to powerful prescription medications such as Oxycontin, Klonopin, or Adderall can be just as–if not more–problematic than typical street drugs. Among the 8.1 million people that the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates had an illicit drug use disorder, “the most common disorders were for marijuana (4.4 million) and misuse of prescription pain relievers (1.7 million).”
Common prescriptions medications that people enter into substance use disorders treatment for include:
- Benzodiazepines (Klonopin, Xanax, Valium)
- Opioids (Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Morphine, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin)
- Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)
How to tell if you or a loved one is using prescription medications problematically?
The following criteria come from the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013:
- Prescription medication is taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended.
- A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control prescription medication use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities, necessary to obtain prescription medication, use, or recover from its effects.
- Craving or a strong desire or urge to use prescription medication.
- Recurrent prescription medication use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home.
- Continued prescription medication use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of prescription drugs.
- Recurrent prescription medication use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
- Prescription medication is continued despite knowledge of having persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems likely to have been caused or exacerbated by prescription drugs.
- Physical or psychological issues that are likely to have been caused or exacerbated by prescription medication use.
- High tolerance for prescription medication.
- Withdrawal symptoms experienced without using prescription medications.
If you or a loved one’s prescription drug use meet at least two of these criteria in the past 12 months, then you may be suffering from a substance use disorder requiring treatment.