Prescription drugs are one of the most abused categories of substances worldwide, so it is not surprising that the demand for prescription drug recovery treatment is currently on the rise. This includes opiate drugs sold under the names OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Lortab as well as anti-anxiety drugs sold under the names Xanax, Valium and Librium. These and other prescription drugs are now more widely abused than illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.
The rise in the demand for prescription drug treatment was recently documented in a report compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report included a breakdown of treatment trends for the nearly 2 million people who were admitted for alcohol and drug recovery treatment in 2009. Opiate drugs accounted for 21 percent of all admissions. Out of all opiate admissions, 33 percent were for prescription drugs – up from 8 percent in 1999. What is alarming about this type of addiction is that it often happens to regular people (housewives, business men or women) who are prescribed medication for pain management. People on these prescribed medications often do not initially abuse them, and instead, a chemical reaction caused by the medication can trigger drug abuse.
The increase in opiate prescription drug treatment can be attributed in large part to the epidemic of painkiller abuse. Lynn Webster, a director for the American Academy of Pain Medicine, links the explosion in prescription painkiller abuse to a desire on the part of physicians to effectively treat pain. Over the past decade, many doctors mistakenly believed that opiate painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin were safe and non-habit forming. The rise in demand for prescription drug recovery has since proven this belief to be naïve.
Many people who abuse prescription drugs will begin to build a tolerance for the drug, meaning that it will take a larger quantity of the drug to achieve the desired effect. In addition to taking more than the recommended dosage, prescription drug abusers often change the form of the drug, such as crushing or dissolving a pill to make it easier to snort or inject. This delivers the effects of the drug to the bloodstream more quickly but also increases the risk of addiction and overdose.
Prescription drug abuse and addiction is treatable. For some drugs, medically-supervised detox is required in order to taper down intake of the drug without serious medical consequences. For other drugs, the abuser can enter a drug recovery treatment program without detox. Recovery from prescription drug addiction requires commitment and effort. For many people, a long-term residential drug recovery program works best. A residential program provides a safe environment where drug-dependent individuals can concentrate on recovery.