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Do I Really Need a Drug Detox if I Have a Prescription for My Medication?

In This Article

Prescription medications can be used for many purposes from pain relief to helping with mental health issues like depression and anxiety and many others. But, sometimes those medications can cause problems. Whether they are taken correctly or not, long term use can lead to dependence which is both physical and mental. Sadly, prescription drugs are often abused which may mean that they are taken when they are no longer really needed or are taken in amounts that are different than what is prescribed by the doctor. If you are doing things like hiding how many pills you take each day, borrowing or even stealing pills from other people, or doctor shopping to keep getting new prescriptions then you may have a prescription pill addiction.

Why We Forget that Prescription Medications Can be Dangerous When Abused

Most people trust their doctors to help them to feel better whether their problem is physical or mental. If that means taking a prescription medication, then it is accepted that the medication will be safe to take. If the medicine is too strong or is taken for too long a very real dependence can begin. With some people it can take very little to become trapped in the cycle of prescription pill abuse. These same people may look down on drug addicts because to them that means people nodding in the street.

Just because a prescription bottle has your name and the name of the doctor on it does not make it safe nor can that label keep you from becoming addicted to that medication.

The Cycle of Prescription Pill Abuse

After an injury, you are prescribed a fairly powerful pain medication. You get the standard warnings about not taking it while driving, not to drink alcohol while using this medication and so on. One thing that the doctor does not warn you about is the risk of becoming dependent on the medication. Some doctors are vigilant about keeping track of their patients’ progress and will only prescribe powerful meds for a short period of time. Others are less diligent about their need to do no harm. Those doctors will write long term prescriptions for a temporary injury.

If you are continuing the med after the injury has resolved or the pain has receded to the point where over the counter analgesics would work you will likely feel a different effect of the medicine. You may feel euphoric, like you are floating. To some, this is a feeling that they want to repeat and so they continue taking the pills.

Eventually they may realize they have a problem and try to stop taking the pills but that can be difficult. Even short term abuse can lead to feelings of withdrawal which are frightening. Those feelings can lead to taking the meds again just so that you don’t feel sick. You are now drug dependent and may start making up injuries, stealing or borrowing pills in the same category from friends and family members and doctor shopping. You feel guilty and try to quit again but the cycle keeps on going.

The Dangers of Detoxing and Withdrawal

Every category of prescription medications will have different withdrawal symptoms but some can be more dangerous than others. Some of the most general symptoms that are typically seen during withdrawal of most prescription medications include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Agitation, anxiety and mood swings
  • Muscle aches and sweating

How bad these symptoms are may depend on a lot of factors including: age, level of dependence and overall health status. These symptoms all carry additional risks like dehydration which can bring on cramps and make other symptoms even worse. Vomiting increases the risk of aspiration which is where you inhale some of the vomited material directly in to your lungs.

Some types of prescriptions can cause suicidal thoughts during withdrawal making this an even more dangerous time period and making it even more important to be monitored by medical professionals.

Detoxing is Vitally Important for Recovery

Before you can start working on your treatment and recovery, you have to get the drugs out of your system completely. Being at a medical detox center for this part of the process allows you to have comfort measures to help ease your way through it while also protects you from negative outcomes.

Having someone who is familiar with withdrawal and the very real pain that it causes can also help lessen the feelings of guilt. Knowing that other people have made it through and are able to help people can be a glimmer of hope in a very terrible and low moment especially to a parent who feels like they have let their children down by becoming addicted to prescription medications.

Once you have struggled through withdrawal you can work on the factors that led to dependence including chronic pain which must still be addressed but obviously must be handled differently. Other issues such as stress, anxiety or depression may need to be identified and treated as well. It is important that your treatment address your physical, emotional and mental well-being in a judgement free environment like a treatment center so that you are strong and capable when you return to your life once again.

After the Treatment Facility

Once you leave the treatment center you will need the support of friends and family as well as a support system in place. You will need a plan of action for when you are overwhelmed, stressed or when you are feeling like you need to use again. Going to meetings and attending counseling sessions are a good part of your after care plan. Counseling can be one on one or may be family based because your prescription pill use did not just affect you. Your entire family was affected and will need to be healed. Just as you did not become addicted to prescription medications overnight, your recovery will not be a quick and easy fix. It will be a long journey back.

If you need to talk to someone about prescription pill abuse right now, please call 877-497-6180

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