Americans have a more complicated relationship with prescription drugs than most. Whether it’s because of our multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry or a myriad of other reasons — prescription drug addiction is a bigger problem here than anywhere else on earth.
Prescription Drugs and Residential Addiction Treatment
The terms dependence and addiction are often used interchangeably, but the truth is they have somewhat different meanings. The distinction between them may be subtle, but it’s important to understand. Physical dependence on a drug means that a person will experience bodily discomfort if they suddenly reduce their dose or stop taking a drug.
For example, if someone dependent on oxycodone abruptly stops taking the medication, they will experience flu-like symptoms, anxiety, and restlessness without medical treatment. The ideal solution in most cases is residential addiction treatment.
In a medical detox setting, the person dependent on opioids (or another drug) will find relief from the physical withdrawal symptoms and medical support followed by mental health therapy to aid their recovery.
Some of the prescription drugs people most often become dependent on include:
- Prescription sleep aids (Ambien, Lunesta)
- Muscle Relaxers (Flexaril, Soma, Norflex, Xanaflex)
- Opioid pain medications (Vicodin, Percocet, Fentanyl)
- Benzodiazepines for anxiety (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium)
- Amphetamines for ADHD (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Vyvanse)
Dependence vs. Addiction to Prescription Drugs
Addiction is a psychological phenomenon. Sometimes called a psychological dependence, addiction is characterized by obsessions and cravings for a drug. When the desire to use a drug begins to offset other things that most reasonable people would agree should be more important, this is a sign of addiction.
For example, a person addicted to a prescription drug may prioritize getting and using the drug over their relationships, work, financial security, or freedom.
Addiction is also characterized by persistent use, even in the face of negative consequences. Addiction has a way of reordering a person’s priorities and even short-circuiting their judgment and logic. Over time, finding, securing, and using the drug moves upwards in the hierarchy of priorities. Eventually, it may become the most important thing in that person’s life.
Prescription drug addiction doesn’t necessarily reach that stage for everyone though. Every person’s “bottom” or point at which they decide to stop and ask for help is different. But for almost everyone dependent or addicted to prescription drugs, like painkillers, it usually takes consequences for them to “surrender” and accept the help they need in residential addiction treatment.
Addiction vs. Dependence:
- A person with an addiction is psychologically dependent on a drug.
- Someone who is dependent will have physical discomfort when stopping a drug.
- Dependence and addiction usually occur together, it can be difficult to separate them.
- No one is to blame for either dependence or addiction, but it is your responsibility to ask for help if you need it.
Do I Need Residential Addiction Treatment If I Take My Medication As Prescribed?
It is important to understand that when it comes to certain categories of drugs, like opioids, benzodiazepines, and other sedatives — any person who takes them regularly for an extended period, will become physically dependent on them. Even if you are taking Xanax or hydrocodone exactly as prescribed, if you take them daily for several months, you will develop a dependence on them. In other words, if you stop suddenly, you will have withdrawal symptoms.
Does this mean you are psychologically addicted? Not necessarily. If you are taking these medications exactly as prescribed and not using them despite negative consequences or feeling compelled or obsessed, then you may not be psychologically dependent (addicted). But, does it matter?
If you have to continue taking a medication, even though you’d rather not or it would be in your best interest to stop — then you have a problem in need of a solution. No one likes withdrawal discomfort and even titrating (lowering your dose) over time with a doctor’s advice can be difficult. Residential addiction treatment, at least for the medical detox period, is often the best solution in a case like this.
Breaking Down The Stigma of Prescription Drug Addiction
Unfortunately, the term addiction has some negative connotations and stigma attached to it. This is one reason why the treatment community is transitioning away from it in favor of terms like substance use disorder. There should be no more shame in addiction to prescription drugs than there would be for any other medical condition.
A physical or psychological dependence on prescription drugs is nothing to be ashamed of or to blame someone for. Addiction can happen to absolutely anyone. It is not a sign of a lack of discipline, willpower, or character. In fact, people who have become addicted to prescription medications like Adderall or hydrocodone are often quite disciplined and accomplished in most areas of their lives.
There should be NO shame or blame in addiction because:
- Shaming and blaming are not helpful to anyone and they don’t work.
- Addiction is a mental health disorder and a psychological phenomenon.
- Anyone can experience addiction and anyone can recover from it with help.
- People who are physically or mentally dependent on a drug deserve help and compassion.
What Is Residential Addiction Treatment, Exactly?
Residential addiction treatment for a prescription drug problem usually begins with the medical detox phase. This initial level of care is where the person’s physical and acute health needs are addressed most directly. It is a time for rest and recuperation.
Patients receive around-the-clock medical support and supervision and medicines are used to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. The medical detox phase is important for both comfort and safety. Unmedicated withdrawal from many drugs, such as opioids, can be very uncomfortable. In the case of alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates, withdrawal without medical support can even be dangerous.
What Happens After Prescription Drugs Clear The System?
After the detox phase is completed, patients in residential addiction treatment may opt to continue their care at the facility. Feeling healthier and stronger, they can begin to benefit from the exceptional mental health treatment offered at Cottonwood Tucson.
Even if someone has never been diagnosed with depression or any other mental health disorder, mental health therapy is frequently beneficial in the recovery process. A well-established dual-diagnosis program can also provide an evaluation that may reveal a previously undiagnosed condition. Treating co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety is often an important step to preserving long-term recovery.
When residential addiction treatment is completed, clients are discharged with a comprehensive aftercare plan. You might think of this as a blueprint for your continued recovery. This individualized care plan will have recommendations that may include outpatient therapy, support groups, and other elements to help ensure your successful recovery from prescription drug dependence.
Luxury Residential Addiction Treatment in Arizona
If you or someone you love needs help overcoming prescription drugs, Cottonwood Tucson can help. Cottonwood Tucson is the premier substance use disorder treatment center in the desert Southwest.
For over 25 years our mission has been to deliver the highest quality evidence-based treatment available for substance misuse and mental health disorders.
Our private residential treatment program is situated on 35 peaceful and serene acres in the Sonoran Desert foothills. You and your loved ones deserve the expert care and innovative therapies that only Cottonwood offers. Let’s talk about what we can do together to help the person you love.
Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888) 433-1069.