In recent years, there have been more prescriptions written for controlled substances. The pharmaceutical industry has even been sued for the opioid epidemic. More and more people are overdosing than ever in history. The reality of this epidemic is no one knows that prescription medications are being over-prescribed and are incredibly addictive. Researchers have explained that the epidemic is not a result of obtaining “street” drugs but is a result of overprescribing encouraged by pharmaceutical companies.
While most people are aware of the addictive nature of “street” substances, fewer people understand the consequences of over-prescribing pain, anxiety, and sleep medications that lead to tolerance and, eventually, addiction.
Causes of Addiction to Prescription Medications
One of the leading causes of addiction to prescription medications is the culture’s fixation on a quick answer to a problem. Using medication to ease pain, help sleep, or control anxiety is much easier than developing life skills to deal with the situation. Doctors do not always assist patients in finding non-medication-based remedies to assist in dealing with the issues being faced by their clients. As a result, tolerance and, eventually, addiction can occur.
Facing the unpleasantness of not having these medications is another reason why addiction occurs. After experiencing the ease with which problems are managed by these medications, facing the problems after the medication wears off makes one want to take another dose. The subsequent dose leads to another dose, which leads to a higher dose, and eventually to not wanting to go without the medication. This cycle is how addiction occurs.
The addiction can become both physical and psychological, possibly requiring intervention to stop the substance. Many substances prescribed by doctors are addictive and require professional assistance to quit. Renaissance Ranch provides assistance with every step of the recovery process, including detox.
Avoiding Addiction to Prescribed Medications
Avoiding addiction to prescribed medications is possible. However, avoiding addiction takes self-control and an understanding of how addiction works. The key element to preventing addiction is using the medications only as the doctor has prescribed. Also, asking your doctor questions is a crucial step to understanding your medications and using them properly. Another essential element to avoiding tolerance and addiction to a substance is understanding why you need the medication and finding alternative ways of dealing with that need.
If you are using anxiety medicine (i.e., Xanax, Valium, Ativan, etc.), understanding that there are alternatives to addictive substances might be helpful. Understanding the causes of your anxiety is of greater importance and will help you identify methods of coping. If your anxiety is caused by being around large groups of people, perhaps easing into being around that many people or taking a friend with you to gatherings might help reduce the anxiety and assist you in avoiding the use of anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications).
Alternatives for Sleep Medications
If you are using medication for sleep, you may need to find a way to wind down or change your schedule to assist in maintaining a proper sleep habit. There is a myriad of ways to help you relax that do not involve medication.
One of these methods is breathing. Of course, all people breathe, and this may seem like silly and annoying advice. However, there are methods of breathing that are more conducive to relaxing than others. One method involves patterned breathing. Try breathing in for a count of four and then breathing out to a count of eight. Slow your breathing down, and it just might help you fall asleep faster.
Patterned breathing is only one of many ways to help you relax and sleep better. Try researching on your own and finding a method that is best suited to you. One does not always need medications, and avoiding their use is the best way to prevent addiction to these substances.
Managing Pain Without Medication
If you are taking medication for pain management, understanding that there are other ways to manage pain might be helpful. Pain is a difficult thing with which to deal daily. Pain seems to cloud one’s entire day and makes functioning challenging. Using pain medication might seem like your only option to avoid the discomfort. However, there are other methods.
Managing pain is difficult, but some mindfulness-based practices alleviate pain. Also, changing your diet might be helpful. Diet has been found to help manage pain as some foods cause an inflammatory response. Speaking to your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you identify the foods that might be triggering your pain. These are just two methods of finding the root and managing your pain without prescription medications.
Facts on Drug Abuse in Utah
Because of its reputation for family values, the state of Utah often isn’t the first place many think of when it comes to addiction and drug abuse. In reality, however, addiction is a serious issue in the state – and drug abuse, in particular, is a much larger issue than many would think.
At Renaissance Ranch, our addiction recovery programs are here for both substance abuse issues and other forms of addiction. Here are some facts that may shock you about drug abuse in Utah.
Prescription Death Increases
Since the turn of the millennium in the year 2000, prescription drug deaths in Utah have skyrocketed at scary rates. In fact, deaths due to prescription drugs have increased by an amazing 400 percent in that time. Utah ranked fifth-highest in the entire country for prescription drug overdose deaths between 2013 and 2015, a surprise to many. In addition, 80 percent of heroin users in Utah began with misuse of a prescription drug that acted as a gateway.
This is an alarming statistic that’s true of all Americans, not just substance abuse sufferers in Utah: Just one in every 10 people with a substance abuse disorder will receive proper addiction treatment for it. This is a huge issue that prevents a big portion of this population from receiving the help they need.
Of all the states in the US, Utah had the seventh-highest drug overdose rate between the years 2013 and 2015. Prescription medications often fall into a “gray” area in Utah, with many people believing they’re safe no matter what simply because they’re legal. Unfortunately, prescriptions can be widely addictive and have led to Utah becoming one of the most highly addicted states in the country. Six Utahns die every single week from an opioid overdose.
In the LDS faith members are taught to utilize prescriptions as directed and to steer clear of illegal substances. However, as we noted above, many people don’t view prescription medications as “drugs”. Due to the misuse of prescription medications, this is often the start of an addiction issue. This drug abuse commonly takes place when an injured or sick person is simply seeking relief from their symptoms.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to prescription medications, you deserve help. You do not have to deal with overcoming addiction on your own. Prescription medications can be over-prescribed, and finding alternate methods of dealing with your issues may seem impossible. However, finding healing and recovery does not have to be impossible. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer clinically-driven approaches to helping you recover from alcohol or substance abuse. We do not discriminate between “street” substances or prescribed medications that have led to addiction. We use a gospel-centered approach and focus on the 12-Steps as the backbone of our treatment. Overcoming an addiction to prescription medications is not impossible. Recovery requires the courage to face your problems and the willingness to ask for help. We all have difficulties we must face, and developing the tools and know-how to face them is a significant part of recovery. Reach out to Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898.