Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem in the U.S. with the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimating that 20% of the U.S. population have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at some point in their lives. With data only looking at those who have overdosed on prescribed medication and have been abusing them, the numbers point to more than 8 million citizens with a prescription drug addiction at any one time.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Addiction causes compulsive drug seeking and use even when harmful consequences are involved. While many may think of illegal drugs when talking about a drug addiction, the number of “legal addicts,” or those with a prescription drug addiction continue to rise. Abusing drugs whether legal or illegal, lead to changes in the brain’s structure and function which have a negative impact on one’s personal or professional life. Addiction is a chronic often relapsing brain disorder.

Common Medications of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are three classes of medications that are typically abused with prescription drug addiction taking over a person’s life. The three classes are 1) opioids, 2) stimulants, and 3) central nervous system depressants.

  • Opioids – may be used effectively to treat pain on a short term basis; used long-term they may lead to prescription drug addiction and physical dependence. Over-use can easily lead to a life threatening overdose. Prescription medications properly prescribed and taken are not an addiction, however if the need for more and more opioids begins to take a front seat in your life it may be time to seek help. Working with a qualified addiction psychiatrist is the best option for breaking the hold prescription drug addiction has on you.
  • Stimulants – may be used to treat medical issues of ADHD, ADD, depression, narcolepsy and numerous other problems. Working with an experienced mental health professional the use of these medications has proven effective for millions of people with a specific diagnosis such as ADHD, ADD, or depression for example. Using these medications for enjoyment can quickly turn into a difficult to stop prescription drug addiction. It may even be possible that these medications may be what the doctor prescribes after a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Central nervous system depressants – medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin or Ativan may be used to treat anxiety, panic, insomnia, and sleep disorders. These medications work by decreasing brain activity resulting in a calm or drowsy state. These medications can quickly become both physically and psychologically addicting and are prescribed on a short-term basis if at all possible. Having a seasoned prescription drug addiction doctor working with you is the top choice when your well-being, mental and physical health are involved.

Local Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

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About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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