Common symptoms of illicit prescription medication use include:
- Stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions.
- Taking larger or higher doses than prescribed.
- Excessive mood swings.
- Increase or decrease in sleep.
- Appearing to be high, unusually energetic or revved up, or sedated.
- Requesting early refills or losing prescriptions.
- Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor.
Prescription medication abuse has reached an epidemic level within the United States, especially with opioids. The overuse of pain medication expanded the “at risk” population to include young adults and teens. Much of the epidemiology of the epidemic began in the early 1990s when the recreational use of these medications escalated rapidly.
Research began looking at all demographics and the impact of the problem across the lifespan. In addition, it began to explore optimal treatment and effective public policy initiatives.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Many medications are abused. The following three classes are the most commonly misused prescribed narcotics:
- Opioids-usually prescribed to treat pain.
- Central nervous system depressants-used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
- Stimulants-most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9.3 million people in the United States reported misusing prescription pain relievers, including teens, young adults, and older adults. In addition, 4.8 million people reported misusing benzodiazepines, and 5.1 million reported misusing stimulants.
These narcotics are often prescribed to treat pain, anxiety, learning disorders, and other disorders or medical condition. Unfortunately, long-term use leads to dependence and addiction.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Made Early Intervention Imperative for Families
It was an epidemic within a pandemic. Overdose deaths increased, individuals turned to prescription medication to manage stress and anxiety, and countless families searched for a way to intervene and help a loved one.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States reached the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. Before the pandemic in 2019, over 14 thousand people died from an overdose involving prescription opioids. Roughly 82% of or four out of five pharmacy-filled prescriptions are opioids.
Unfortunately, the covid-19 pandemic increased the rates of mental illness and behavioral problems, like drug and alcohol addiction, among many Americans. The National Institutes of Health were on record saying people with substance use disorders may be at higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections.
Early intervention saves lives and is the sole reason why so many people successfully stop these medications. Prevention and treatment efforts successfully manage the problem. However, addiction intervention also prevents the disorder from leading to the use of illicit substances later in life.
Family Intervention for Prescription Drug Addiction
More than 131 million people, or 66% of all adults in the United States use prescription drugs
Narcotic medication use is associated with age, gender, race, ethnicity, income, and health status. Pharmaceuticals include:
- Opioids like oxycodone, codeine, and hydrocodone.
- Sedative and tranquilizers.
- Anti-anxiety medication like Xanax, clonazepam, or diazepam and barbiturates.
The improper use of these drugs leads to life-threatening problems, especially when used with alcohol, which increases the risk of death. Family intervention is a process where a professional interventionist works with a family to organize an intervention.
The intervention process helps the individual understand how their substance abuse has led to dependence. According to Harvard Medical School, drug dependence leads to addiction. Dependence is an uncontrollable desire to experience the pleasurable effects of an illicit substance or to prevent the unpleasant effects of withdrawal. Interventionists are trained to help families prepare an intervention, especially before withdrawal symptoms begin.
Underlying Issues and Prescription Drug Abuse
There are countless underlying issues connected to misuse of prescribed medication-for example, mental health disorders, pain, insomnia, stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many individuals who develop substance use disorders are also diagnosed with mental disorders.
There are high rates of pharmaceutical drug use among people with anxiety, panic disorders, or post-traumatic stress. Individuals are given prescriptions and often remain on these prescriptions longer than needed or misuse them. Common prescriptions include:
- Opioid analgesics-codeine, hydrocodone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and propoxyphene.
- Benzodiazepines-alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide HCL, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam.
- Barbiturates-butalbital, meprobamate, pentobarbital sodium, phenobarbital, secobarbital.
- Stimulants-amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, and sibutramine.
Experts believe three main pathways contribute to the comorbidity between substance and mental illness. Initially, there are common risk factors that contribute to both. Mental illness may contribute to substance use and addiction. Substance use and addiction may contribute to the development of mental illness.
Preventing Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths with Early Intervention
Preventing prescription drug addiction among teens and adults begins with early intervention. For example, more than 84% of Americans had contact with a health care professional, placing doctors in a unique position to identify non-medical use of prescribed drugs. Patients can also take steps to ensure that they use prescription medication appropriately.
However, when someone becomes addicted, the only successful solution is family intervention. Addiction and physical dependence become challenging to manage without professional help. A professional addiction interventionist is the most efficient solution for teens, young adults, or older adults struggling with addiction.