Helping Loved Ones With Prescription Drug Addictions
Prescription drug addiction can negatively affect your health. It can also put you at risk of a fatal overdose. Drug addiction can also put a strain on your finances and relationships.
Do you suspect that someone you love is misusing prescription medications? Its important for them to get professional help. Their doctor or mental health specialist might recommend counseling. They might also refer your loved one to an intensive rehabilitation program. In some cases, they might prescribe medications to help curb drug cravings or relieve symptoms of withdrawal.
If you suspect that someone you love has a prescription drug addiction, there are ways that you can help.
For more information on drug addiction, including potential treatment options, visit these websites:
What Makes Drugs Addictive
While some substances may be technically more addictive than others, any drug can become addictive. Nicotine in cigarettes, alcohol, prescription painkillers, and illegal drugs all can be addictive. However, the risk of addiction is based as much or more on individuals and their circumstances, not drugs themselves.
Anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, including nurses, doctors, law enforcement agents or straight A students . It could happen the first time you try a drug, as can a fatal overdose.
Some of the things that make drugs addictive include:
Most Addictive Drugs In The World
Some of the most addictive drugs in the world include:
1. Prescription Opioids
Common Street Names: Captain Cody, Dillies, Schoolboy, Oxycat, Percs, White Stuff
Prescription opioids belong to the opioid class of drugs which are either derived from poppy plants or produced synthetically in a laboratory. Regardless of how its made, all opioids are chemically alike. They bind with opioid receptors to block nerve signals between the brain and the body. This gives them the ability to effectively block pain, which is why theyre often used to manage chronic pain.
Unfortunately, they also produce a high which makes them extremely addictive. Whats dangerous with opioids is that you can abuse them and not know it. Accidental addiction can happen with prescription opioids if a person:
- Takes more than the prescribed dose
- Takes it longer than prescribed
- Drinks them with alcohol without knowing the risk
When a person misuses opioids, they can develop tolerance to these drugs. Drug tolerance increases the risk for addiction and overdose.
In the United States, as much as 96.6% of people who misuse opioids use opioid painkillers.1 Globally, opioid use disorder affects about 16 million people.2
List of Addictive Opioids
Below are some misused opioids:
Codeine is one of the most commonly prescribed addictive drugs. It is used to treat mild to moderate pain, especially when the person doesnt respond to less potent painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.
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Why Are Opiates So Addictive
When a person takes opiates, it triggers the same responses that happen when you do something your body and brain find pleasurable, such as eating, but in a much more pronounced way. Opiates also cause your brain to create a flood of dopamine, and these responses are what contribute to the desire to continue using drugs.
If you are a repeated user of opiates, then your brain starts to rewire itself in a way that allows it to feel normal only with drugs, and it feels abnormal when theyre not present. For example, a person who has been using opiates for a period will often feel very anxious or irritated when theyre not on them.
Opiates play such a significant role in the brain that they can also impact your self-control, so even beyond the time the drugs give you the intense euphoric rush, you can still feel the desire to take them.
How Drugs And Alcohol Affect The Brain
The different areas of your brain talk to each other through neurotransmitters . Dopamine is the main neurotransmitter for drugs of abuse. It carries chemical messages between the neurons .
Neurons have receptors that dopamine and other neurotransmitters can unlock to deliver a chemical message. After the dopamine delivers the message, your brain gathers up the dopamine and recycles it. However, drugs of abuse can copy dopamine, stimulate too much dopamine, or prevent the brain from recycling it.
The release of dopamine from a normal rewarding activity like eating or having sex stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain like drugs do. The stimulation from drugs, though, can be far stronger. If substance abuse continues, your brain will slow down production of normal dopamine and other chemical messengers.
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Benzodiazepines Addiction In The Us
Being the most commonly prescribed medications in the US, benzodiazepines or benzos are often used for anxiety reduction, seizure treatment, muscle relaxants, and sleep-inducing drugs. While they are prescribed often, their addictive properties mean that they are commonly misused or abused. Some widely prescribed benzodiazepine drugs include Xanax addiction, Valium addiction, Restoril addiction, Klonopin addiction, and more.
Users often experience anxiety and insomnia in the first four days of Benzodiazepine detox treatments at drug rehab centers.Benzo detox is best performed with inpatient rehab centers in NJ, such as Avatar, as Benzo withdrawal is hazardous. You can locate a facility by searching drug treatment facilities near me.
What Are Commonly Used Addictive Substances
- Substance Use Disorder
- What Are Commonly Used Addictive Substances?
Below is a brief list of commonly addictive substances. Learn how they may affect you or your loved ones. The substances below are listed from most to least common.
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The 5 Most Addictive Drugs
Heroin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , heroin is the fastest acting and most abused opioid. Opioids are drugs that relieve pain and provide a euphoric âhigh.â Opioids include prescription painkillers, like oxycodone and morphine, or illegal drugs like heroin and street fentanyl.
According to a 2020 review published by the National Institutes of Health, about 80 percent of heroin users began with abusing prescription opioids, and about 400,000 Americans aged 12 and older live with heroin addiction.
Cocaine/Crack. Cocaine is a highly addictive illegal powder. Itâs a stimulant, which means its users become more alert, active, and euphoric before crashing. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, crack is a type of smoked cocaine that is faster acting but almost chemically identical. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, five and a half million people used cocaine, including crack, in 2019, and about a million of those people were addicted.
Alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the brainâs reactions and functioning. It also reduces anxiety in lighter doses. The availability of alcohol and its popularity can make it more addictive, Antonello Bonci, MD, founder of Global Institutes on Addictions in Miami, Florida, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“In terms of the sheer number of people addicted, alcohol is the substance with the highest number of cases worldwide,â Bonci says.
Ways To Get In Contact With Us
If you believe you or someone you love may be struggling with addiction, let us hear your story and help you determine a path to treatment.
There are a variety of confidential, free, and no obligation ways to get in contact with us to learn more about treatment.
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Central Nervous System Depressants
CNS depressants include barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Sometimes they are called tranquilizers and their purpose is to have a calming effect. Some signs and symptoms of misuse include:
Personality or behavior changes
Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine sold under the brand name Xanax. It is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Any drug that depresses your CNS has a calming effect. It is frequently misused for its quick-acting sedating effects.
The CDC has stated that four times as many Americans died in 2015 than in 2002 from overdoses that involved benzodiazepines. Many of those people died after combining benzodiazepines with opioids. Signs of alprazolam misuse include sleep problems, swelling of the hands or feet, tremors.
Clonazepam and Diazepam are benzodiazepines. Theyre used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Theyre also used to treat seizures. Clonazepam is commonly sold under the brand name Klonopin and diazepam is sold under the brand name Valium.
The Most Addictive Illegal Drugs
Several factors contribute to a drug being referenced as the most addictive. There is a lack of definitive ranking when it comes to drug dependency, but addiction specialists have attempted to make a list. There has been much debate about which drugs should be classified. Addiction is marked by compulsive substance-seeking behavior, a growing tolerance to drugs or alcohol and the presence of withdrawal symptoms upon sudden cessation.
There are different aspects that researchers use to rate how addictive a drug may be. These include how the drug activates the brains dopamine system, how pleasurable the drug is reported to be, the level in which the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, how quickly someone can become hooked on the drug, how much physical or cognitive harm can occur from
using the drug, and the street value of the drug. These findings can be beneficial for addiction treatment and when the teams create relapse prevention plans with their client. These findings will help specialists with the additional factors that must be overcome in addiction.
This is a list of some of the most addictive illegal drugs in no particular order:
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Heroin Addiction And Abuse
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Most Popular Drugs In The Us
The most common drugs used in America include:
In 2019, 14 percent of U.S. adults smoked cigarettes. This equates to 34.1 million people, including 15.3 percent of men and 12.7 percent of women.4
Nicotine addiction may not seem as harmful as many other addictions since tobacco products are legal and easy to buy in the U.S.
Additionally, the worst side effects of tobacco use take time to develop.
Tobacco use takes more lives than any other addictive drug. Many smokers cant quit even though they know the impact smoking has on their health.
Wanting to quit tobacco use, but being unable to do so, is a sign of addiction and a need for treatment.
In the U.S., over 85.6 percent of people over 18 reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives.5
The social acceptance of drinking can make an alcohol use disorder hard to spot. Alcohol is legal, but it comes with many health risks, including addiction.
There are a number of negative consequences which can result from AUD. It can lead to death from:
- Liver disease
- Other serious health issues
In some states, the legalization of marijuana has made the drug more socially acceptable, minimizing potential unwanted consequences such as cannabis dependence.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated two million Americans misused prescription pain killers for the first time.6
The following drugs are commonly prescribed to treat pain:
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Signs And Symptoms Of Heroin Addiction
- Scabs or bruises from skin picking
- Periods of hyperactivity followed by periods of exhaustion
- Inability to fulfill work or school responsibilities
- Apathy and lack of motivation
- A decline in occupational or academic performance
- Heroin cravings
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Toxicity
- Excessive drowsiness
- Respiratory depression
- Track marks on skin or fresh puncture wounds
- Weight loss
- Frequent nose bleeds
Heroin Addiction Withdrawal
Severe physical side effects can occur during heroin and opioid withdrawal. These withdrawal symptoms are one of the main reasons why quitting heroin cold turkey is nearly impossible. Major withdrawal symptoms are at the highest between 24â48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. Although heroin withdrawal is not life-threatening, medications are usually administered to alleviate the painful withdrawal symptoms. These medications also help prevent future cravings.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction Withdrawal
- Excessive tearing and runny nose
- Abdominal pain
Treatment Of Drug Addiction
Medicine and behavioral therapies are two common treatments used for drug addiction. Methadone and Buprenorphine can be used for heroin addictions and Modanifi can be used for the treatment of nicotine addiction. Medicine helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in a drug user. Behavioral therapies include contingency measures and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Contingency measures include motivational incentives such as rewarding drug addicts for positive behaviors such as staying away from drugs. Cognitive-behavioral therapies aim at reducing triggers and stress that causes one to take the drugs.
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Can You Tell If A Person Is Addicted Or Dependent On Drugs
In order to understand why drugs are addictive, it is vital to understand the difference between addiction and dependence. Psychological and physical dependence and addiction do not necessarily mean the same thing. Dependence is often defined by characteristics including:
- Physical dependence on the substance that leads to withdrawal symptoms if the person cannot use the drug
- A level of tolerance that requires greater quantities of the substance to fulfil a persons need for the drug
- Intense cravings for the substance that lead to relapse when a person tries to stop drinking or using
- The inability to control the amount of the drug, regardless of the intention to stop or control their habit
Crack Cocaine Addiction In The Us
Crack cocaine which is cheap and produces more intensified effects than regular cocaine. It is responsible for many people suffering from cocaine drug addiction and substance abuse. Treating heroin addiction requires a combination of therapy and medication to help a person manage withdrawal symptoms and further cravings for the substance.
Cocaine is a highly addictive legal powder that is accessible to people. Cocaine acts as a stimulant which means that users who are dependent on cocaine become more alert, active, and euphoric before developing an addiction. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, five and a half million people used cocaine, including crack, in 2019. About a million of those people had a cocaine addiction.
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How Is Drug Addictiveness Measured
The addictiveness of drugs can be measured using a variety of factors. Nutt and colleagues analyzed each substance based on physical and psychological dependency, physical harm and societal harms. Dependence was based on pleasurable effects, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and the drugs ability to influence repeated use.
In the 1990s, Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco each ranked the six most addictive drugs.
- Rates of dependence and relapse
- Level of intoxication
Henningfield ranked nicotine as the most addictive substance, followed by heroin, cocaine, alcohol, caffeine and marijuana. He said that heroin caused the second most intense withdrawal symptoms, followed by nicotine, cocaine, caffeine and marijuana.
According to Henningfields rankings, alcohol caused the highest level of intoxication, and it had the most serious withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism can lead to delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal characterized by sudden and severe changes to the nervous system.
Both addiction experts found that cocaine ranked highest for reinforcement, which is a measure of a substances ability to drive repeated use based on human and animal tests.
What To Do In A Heroin Overdose
Contact emergency personnel immediately. Heroin overdose is a medical emergency that requires treatment with naloxone. Call 911 for an emergency transport in the US and Canada.
Signs of an opioid overdose include extreme drowsiness, blue lips and fingernails, slow or halted breathing, pinpoint pupils, slow heart rate, coma, death.
Occurring more frequently in the U.S., heroin purchased on the street may be “cut” or contaminated with other dangerous and extremely potent opioids, such as fentanyl or carfentanyl. These agents are often fatal to the user, and deaths have been reported.
Learn More: Know Your Naloxone: Save a Life
For use in the community, naloxone comes as a nasal spray . If naloxone is available, you can administer it yourself to someone who is overdosing. You should still call 911.
In many pharmacies you can now access naloxone without a prescription to keep with you, at home or in your car in case of an overdose emergency. This is recommended especially if you have friends or family members using opioids or undergoing treatment. Ask your pharmacist about access to naloxone in your state. Read the directions on administering the naloxone before an emergency occurs.
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