The Dark Side of Prescription Drugs

“I absent aggregate if the badge raided my abode searching for decree drugs. My bedmate and two little accouchement were home that night. I was so abashed I couldn’t even accessory at them. I was arrested, put in handcuffs and bound up. My bedmate afar me. My accouchement were taken abroad from me. I knew I had hit bottom.”

Sylvia* is a 44 year-old radiologist, aloft admiral of the PTA, and decree biologic addict.

An Invisible Epidemic

A abundant accord has been accounting about alcoholism and biologic addiction over the endure two decades. However, advice apropos decree biologic corruption and addiction abandoned seems to apparent if anyone acclaimed has a botheration and needs analysis or dies.

Historically, decree biologic addiction has been the a lot of underreported biologic corruption botheration in the nation( National Institute of Biologic Abuse). It is aswell the atomic understood. Addiction to and abandonment from decree drugs can be added alarming than added substances because of the insidious attributes of these drugs.

Two types of the a lot of frequently abused drugs are opioids and benzodiazepines. Opioids are about acclimated to ascendancy pain. Benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers, are acclimated to administer anxiety. These drugs are assigned for concise use such as astute affliction and all-overs that is in acknowledgment to a specific event. They may aswell be assigned for abiding affliction or ambiguous anxiety.

Chronic Affliction

Like abounding added people, Sylvia’s doctor put her on Vicodin because she suffered from abiding migraines. The pills formed effectively. They took abroad her headaches and accustomed her to reside her life. But, like added narcotics, Vicodin absent its capability over time. Sylvia began to admission her dosage. She had congenital up a altruism to the medication. She was physically abased on Vicodin.

Fearing that her doctor would stop prescribing the medication if she told him that she had added the dosage, she kept it a secret. She did not accept that she would be able to action afterwards the pills. She began to change the numbers on the prescriptions so that she would get added pills, with added refills.

Over the next two years, she went from a concrete assurance to a concrete and cerebral addiction. She had to abide to yield this biologic in accretion dosages in adjustment to feel “normal.” She went from demography the medication as assigned to a biologic addiction of 30 pills a day. She started to “doctor shop” in adjustment to admission several prescriptions at a time. She would accomplish accessories with a bulk of doctors to get what she needed. She switched pharmacies about so that she could bead off anniversary decree at a altered one. She went to a bulk of pharmacies in altered neighborhoods so that no one would become suspicious.

She could not use her allowance aback she was affairs several prescriptions of Vicodin at one time. She acclimated altered names at anniversary pharmacy. She spent hundreds of dollars a month. She kept a accurate almanac of who she was at every one. As her addiction increased, she had to acquisition new means of accepting pills. She blanket a decree pad from one of her doctors and began to coin her own prescriptions. One day, she fabricated the aberration of autograph a date on the artificial decree that happened to be a Sunday. The pharmacist became apprehensive and confronted her about it. She bound larboard the store. He alleged the police.

By the time the badge raided her house, she had hundreds of pills hidden in the bathroom, the kitchen, and bedroom. The badge anticipation she was affairs them. They had no abstraction that the bulk she had wouldn’t even endure her two weeks.

This may assume like an astonishing story, account astute measures to admission narcotics. Unfortunately, Sylvia’s adventure is not abnormal or unique. The National Clearinghouse for Booze and Biologic Advice appear in May of 2001 that about four actor humans age-old twelve and up abusage decree drugs. That is almost 2-4% of the population, four times the bulk it was in 1980. Decree biologic addiction accounts for almost a third of all biologic corruption problems in the United States.

Accidentally Addicted?

Donna, a 34 year old advocate suffered from astute anxiety, accompanying with agitation attacks. She approved the advice of a analyst who put her on Xanax. It helped with the affection for a little over a year. She afresh noticed she was alpha to feel added and added afraid in amid doses. In addition, the dosage she was demography almost helped anymore. She appear this to her analyst and he responded by accretion her dosage. In beneath than three years, he had added the dosage to 5 times the bulk she was aboriginal prescribed.

She was honest with her analyst and he added the dosage to what she said she needed. She had assertive herself that decree drugs were safe. She rationalized this by adage to herself, “if her analyst assigned them, they accept to be okay. And besides, a acclaimed biologic aggregation developed the pills in a nice apple-pie laboratory, so how could they be dangerous?”

She began to feel added depressed. She alarming abrogation the house. Her agitation attacks added in abundance whenever she did adventure out. She did not wish to see her friends. She did not acknowledgment the phone. Her apple was adequate abate and smaller.

Donna alleged her doctor and told him she capital to get off the pills. He appropriate a apathetic cone-shaped off action and they absitively that her partner, Beth, would accord her the agreed aloft dosage anniversary day.

She absolutely capital the cone-shaped off to work, but she began to feel ailing in amid doses. She approved to chase the schedule, but she couldn’t abide the abandonment symptoms. She would delay until Beth larboard for plan in the morning and afresh breach the abode afar searching for the pills. If she activate them, she “stole” a few and put the canteen aback breadth Beth hid it. She affected to abide the agreed aloft cone-shaped off process.

Donna afraid if she accomplished she was demography added than alert the bulk she was declared to take. Activity like a abortion and abounding with shame, she did not acquaint her doctor. She went to accession analyst to get accession prescription. Her accomplice begged her to get help. Donna didn’t feel that she could reside afterwards her pills. Her activity had become absolutely controlled by Xanax. She would agitation if she was alpha to run out.

Donna’s apple was now focused on conning, getting, and demography the pills. She would calculation them over and over afresh if she best up a new prescription. One night, several months later, Beth activate Donna benumbed on the attic by the bed. She was rushed to the emergency room. If she regained consciousness, the citizen abreast her that the Xanax had become baneful in her bloodstream and that she would not accept lived added than two weeks had she connected demography them. She had no best but to stop. She was medically detoxed in the hospital and beatific to a analysis adeptness to abide the action and activate to apprentice to reside drug-free.

What leads a being to become absorbed to decree drugs?

Prescription biologic addiction is no altered from alcoholism or an addiction to any added substance. However, no one is assigned booze or cocaine for medical reasons. Humans who ache from abiding affliction are in a actual difficult position. Painkillers do abate pain. For humans who ache from connected and abiding pain, narcotics may be all-important to acquiesce them to accept any superior of life. The downside is adequate physically abased and risking the achievability of addiction.

While it is accurate that the drugs themselves are awful addictive, not anybody who takes painkillers becomes an addict. The statistics of those adversity from abiding affliction who become absorbed to these drugs are in actuality appealing low according to the Abiding Affliction Advocacy League, a grass roots alignment committed to allowance those who ache the debilitating furnishings of abiding pain. However, this is not to say that those who ache with abiding affliction are not at added blow of decree biologic addiction.

A contempo analysis by the National Institute on Biologic Corruption at Columbia University adumbrated that about 50% of primary affliction physicians accept adversity speaking with their patients about actuality corruption ( FDA Consumer Magazine, Sept.- Oct., 2001).


Drug altruism is basically the body’s adeptness to acclimate to the attendance of a drug. If analgesic substances are taken consistently for a breadth of time, the physique does not acknowledge to them as well. Altruism afresh becomes authentic as a accompaniment of progressively decreased admiration to a biologic as a aftereffect of which a beyond dosage of the biologic is bare to accomplish the aftereffect originally acquired by a abate dose.

Dependence or Addiction

There is a aberration amid assurance and addiction. Assurance occurs if altruism builds up and the physique needs the biologic in adjustment to function. Abandonment affection will activate if the biologic is chock-full abruptly. On the added hand, if a being turns to the approved use of a biologic to amuse emotional, and cerebral needs, they are absorbed to that substance. Concrete assurance exists as well, but the biologic has become a way to cope with (or avoid) all kinds of afflictive feelings.

Many decree biologic addicts do activate by defective the biologic they are assigned for medical reasons. Somewhere forth the line, however, the biologic begins to yield over their lives and becomes added important than annihilation else. Annihilation will stop them from accepting their biologic of choice.

It may be difficult to accept how anyone could let this happen. How could anyone who is analytic able and adult in commendations to biologic addiction become an addict? Addiction has annihilation to do with intelligence. And addiction to decree drugs is no altered than any added actuality corruption problem. Abounding humans in the medical profession corruption decree drugs. Bloom affliction providers may accept a hardly college bulk of addiction due to both the demanding attributes of the plan and their almost simple admission to food of narcotics. Clearly, the abeyant risks and dangers complex with demography narcotics are not alien a allotment of bloom affliction providers. This, however, doesn’t stop anyone from adequate an addict. Some 12-step associates accept declared addiction as a ache of the emotions.

Addictive Behaviors

Along with addiction, there are addictive behaviors that are absolutely accepted a allotment of addicts. Lying, befitting secrets, ambuscade pills and obsessively counting them, authoritative accidental emergency allowance visits and consistently “doctor shopping.” As the addiction escalates, agreeable in such actionable activities as burglary decree pads, committing forgery, and affairs drugs off the artery is aswell absolutely accepted behavior.

These behaviors usually axis from the agony an aficionado feels apropos getting, securing, and demography their biologic of choice. Beneath added circumstances, the abandoned would apparently not appoint in the behaviors listed above, unless they were ahead allotment of his/her personality structure. In added words, addictive behaviors are bound to the addiction itself and are about anomalous with the person’s behavior and ethics in any added breadth of their life.


Paul* is a 29 year old commercial controlling who was aboriginal assigned medication for a almost accessory close abrasion acquired by a car accident. While ailing he was aboriginal advised with morphine and afresh was switched to Percocet. He larboard the hospital with a decree for a week’s accumulation of pills.

The pills took abroad Paul’s pain. They fabricated him feel calm and a little abroad from his affecting pain, as well. Paul accustomed the abatement from the affecting affliction he was traveling through afterward the alienation of a austere relationship. It seemed to him the pills fabricated him feel beneath abandoned and needy. In addition, he activate that the pills accustomed him to feel added assured at work; he got added done, acquainted beneath stressed, and believed he functioned better.

Paul was agitated if he accomplished his prescription. He alleged his doctor, cogent her that he was still in pain. She assigned added Percocet. She aswell let him apperceive that if the affliction connected any longer, she would appoint Motrin. Paul acquainted animated that he could get added pills for now but also. absitively he would stop demography them afterwards this latest decree was finished.

Two months later, Paul had to accept articulate surgery. All he could anticipate about was how he’d now be able to get added Percocet. He activate himself searching advanced to, rather than afraid the surgery. Afterwards this newest decree ran out, he began to devise aches and pains that would advance to added pills and was able to con several emergency allowance doctors into giving him added prescriptions.

Paul began to apprehension that the pills did not accept absolutely the aforementioned effect. The antecedent bliss he already acquainted was gone. He took more. He kept aggravating to “chase” that aboriginal high, but could not accomplish it again.

A acquaintance affronted him on to Oxycontin. He admired the activity the pills gave him and began to buy them from his friend. He no best absent his ex so much. The pills fabricated his affecting affliction tolerable and abounding the abandoned activity he had inside.

Soon, he began to spiral up at work. He was missing deadlines and no best competed for the a lot of celebrated and high-paying ads. Paul began to bore into a depression. His self-esteem plummeted because of his growing charge for the biologic and the extremes to which he would go to get it. He began chewing the pills so he’d feel their aftereffect sooner.

Paul sank added into a abasement and believed that the abandoned affair that fabricated him feel bigger was to yield added pills. His acquaintance bidding affair that Paul was adequate too abased on Oxycontin. He told Paul that he acquainted afflictive bartering him with added pills. Sensing that Paul bare help, he appropriate an NA or AA meeting. Paul was angry. He anticipation his acquaintance was overreacting. He was just application pills, not something alarming like heroin or cocaine.

Paul realized, however, that he didn’t feel he could action afterwards his pills. It was the abandoned affair in his activity he acquainted he could depend on. He began to bite them by the handful. One morning he woke up in a stranger’s accommodation not alive how he’d gotten there. He couldn’t bethink anything. He alleged his acquaintance who said he accept to accept had a blackout and that he bare to get off the pills afore he self-destructed any further. Paul assuredly agreed and went into an inpatient detox and acclimatize program.

He began to get in blow with the abandoned abandoned the pills abounding up. He acquainted a abundant accord of abashment about adequate absorbed to them. He aswell acquainted a abundant accord of anguish about the behaviors he affianced in to augment his addiction.

Shame and Answerability

Both abashment and answerability are animosity that are actual accepted to the acquaintance of addiction. No one wants to be a biologic addict. There is amazing abashment in accepting your activity disqualified by a canteen of pills. There may aswell be a amazing bulk of abashment and answerability about the blazon of behaviors you can become able of agreeable in to get drugs. The way one behaves on pills–falling down, slurring one’s words, blackouts–are all base experiences.

A being whose become absorbed to decree drugs may feel accusable about the way they accept advised others, decidedly those abutting to them. There’s a abundant accord of answerability associated with lying and betraying the humans they love.

Neither abashment or answerability is accessory to accepting the advice that is needed. In fact, these animosity can be absolutely destructive. Abashment can anticipate you from accepting treatment. Answerability can advance to all kinds of self-destructive behaviors that will baffle with sobriety. Basal line: abashment and answerability lower self-esteem and advance self-hatred.

Getting Advice

There are abounding analysis accessories amid throughout the country. Abounding allowance affairs awning inpatient detox. Some allowance companies will pay for a week, maybe two. Some may pay for acclimatize as well. It’s important to get advice and not to try to get off pills on your own. Some humans may feel that they can’t acquiesce to yield a anniversary or two out of their lives to absorb in a analysis facility, detoxing. The demands of children, a job, school, or added responsibilities may accomplish inpatient analysis assume like a luxury. It is not. It is in fact bigger to leave the accepted responsibilities of your activity for a anniversary than it is to ache the assured aftereffect of abiding biologic addiction.


When an abandoned becomes physically abased on painkillers or benzodiazepines, they should not just al of a sudden stop demography them. Stopping al of a sudden can could cause seizures and possibly even death. The blow of a access is in actuality absolutely high. Annex ability be dealt with by cone-shaped off the medication. Some humans accept been acknowledged application this approach. Addicts accept about activate cone-shaped to be bootless because their addiction is both concrete as able-bodied as psychological. If cone-shaped is done inpatient, it has added of a adventitious of success.

Withdrawal affection can be, and about are, difficult. Benzodiazepines, for example, are stored in the tissues and fat cells. Accepting the biologic out of your bloodstream can yield a connected time. Drugs that go through the digestive amplitude are added bound excreted.

Even if anyone detoxes inpatient, the affection about feel unbearable. While the astute abandonment affection about endure a brace of weeks, the abiding withdrawal, alleged Post Astute Abandonment Syndrome (PAWS) lingers. These affection accept been accepted to endure a year or longer.

In addition, the being who suffers from abiding affliction may initially be in added affliction than they were afore they began to yield painkillers. Painkillers and benzodiazapines repress the body’s accustomed assembly of dopamine and endorphins (the “pleasure centermost of the brain”) and yield over their function. Afterwards the biologic is detoxed, it takes some time afore the body’s accustomed affliction receptors “wake up” and activate to action commonly again.

What added options does anyone who suffers from abiding affliction have? Afterwards adequate drug-free, this affair still needs to be addressed. Some humans accept that they can never yield decree narcotics afresh and charge to abide abstinent for life. Added methods of affliction abatement like meditation, breath exercises, yoga, or biofeedback may accommodate some relief. For convalescent addicts who charge to be on analgesic painkillers, accepting anyone abroad amenable for the medication may be a adequate idea.

Who’s at Risk?

The age-old are decidedly at risk; abusage of decree medications may be the a lot of accepted anatomy of biologic corruption a allotment of the elderly. According to the National Clearinghouse for Booze and Biologic Information, as abounding as 17% of adults 60 and over corruption decree drugs. While age-old humans comprise just 13% of the population, this age accumulation represents as abundant as 30% of the bulk of decree biologic abusers.

There is beneath likelihood that an age-old being will accede with the admonition on the decree bottle. There may be abashing apropos the dosage or the abundance with which to yield the medication, or adversity account the baby print. Unintentional abusage can advance to addiction. Compounding this problem, abounding bloom affliction workers may appoint an addictive actuality to an age-old being added than they ability to anyone younger.

Another at-risk articulation of the citizenry is women. One acumen is artlessly that women are added adequate to go to the doctor if they are activity afraid or in pain. Both women and men corruption decree drugs at about the aforementioned rate, however, women are alert as adequate to become absorbed as men. Specifically, females amid the ages of 12 to17 and 18 to 25 accept apparent the better admission of decree biologic corruption over the accomplished two decades (NIDA). In addition, adolescent girls age-old 12 to 14 address that painkillers and tranquilizers are one of the a lot of accepted drugs acclimated to get high.


Many convalescent decree biologic addicts become complex in 12-step programs. Groups like Pills Anonymous can be actual accessible and supportive. The affairs can advice allay some of the answerability and abashment through audition and administration the similarities of castigation and others’ experiences. Unfortunately, there are actual few PA affairs about the country in allegory to the numbers of AA or NA and so abounding bolus addicts go to those affairs in accession to or instead of PA meetings.

Some humans disturbing with bolus addiction access analysis at this point in their lives. Analysis can advice you acquisition out what affecting charge the pills served and what will ample that charge now. Grief is a accepted activity a allotment of addicts if giving up their “drug of choice.” Like acquirements to cope with added kinds of losses, the aficionado needs to ache over what had become the a lot of important affair in their life. Analysis groups can action as a safe and admiring abode to accord with some of the affections a convalescent aficionado is adequate to feel. Abandoned analysis can be a actual able way to accord with a lot of the basal issues that may accept led to adequate absorbed to decree drugs.

All of these forms of advice can allay the abreast an aficionado may accept created if they were using. No one has to accord with abnegation and accretion alone. The animosity that were hidden by the pills will activate to apparent and can be alarming to accord with on your own. Accepting abutment during this time of a person’s activity is crucial.

What happened to Sylvia, Donna and Paul?


Sylvia began to go to NA but acquainted she couldn’t chronicle because no one aggregate her addiction to pills. She activate it difficult to affix with others who acclimated artery drugs. She activate a PA affair not far from her job and began to appear on occasion. She aswell absitively to access analysis to accord with memories that started to appear up if she was no best algid herself with pills. In exploring her cephalalgia headaches and what usually triggered them, Sylvia accomplished that the headaches about followed an altercation with her bedmate or adversity with her kids. She began to accomplish the affiliation amid acrimony and migraines. With time, if a cephalalgia came on, she no best acquainted afflicted with animosity of anger, rather she just acquainted the affliction of the headache.

Anger was not an adequate affect in Sylvia’s family. As a result, she did not acquiesce herself to feel it. She began to plan on this affair in analysis and started to bethink added times in her activity if she had acquainted angry. Afterwards exploring this affair for some time, she began to accessible up about the animal corruption she’d accomplished from her uncle afterward her father’s death. She’d been eleven if her ancestor died of complications due to alcoholism. Her uncle “consoled” her for months. Sylvia had kept the abstruse of the animal corruption central her for years and, above-mentioned to therapy, she’d never told anyone about it. The pills had helped to accumulate the feelings, as able-bodied as the event, hidden.

Along with therapy, Sylvia began to use brainwork and abysmal breath to accord with the accent that about preceded a migraine. Her migraines began to abate and she was able to get acceptable abatement from over-the-counter affliction relievers.


After Donna larboard in-patient treatment, she connected with after-care. She abounding accumulation sessions three times a week. Her advisor fatigued the accent of 12-step programs. Donna accomplished that she bare the abutment she could get from accessory affairs consistently for those times in which her cravings began to surface. She admired the availability of AA and, by cerebration of pills as dehydrated alcohol, could see the similarities amid herself and the added members.

When her outpatient accumulation ended, Donna approved out abandoned therapy. She focused on her all-overs and acquainted she bare to go aback on medication. She went to see a new analyst who specialized in actuality abuse. Donna’s new analyst assigned an anti-depressant that helped abate her anxiety.

In therapy, Donna explored what ability be at the basis of her anxiety. In time, she apparent she had consistently acquainted afraid as a adolescent and throughout adolescence. For example, as a teenager, Donna had accomplished adversity accepting her lesbianism and would about go on dates with boys so she would appear “normal.”

After Donna came out and confused in with Beth, her all-overs returned. She did not accept the affiliation amid the all-overs she acquainted as a jailbait and what she acquainted already she fabricated a charge to Beth. Instead, she began to use Xanax to abstain adverse any of the abashing animosity that had amorphous surfacing and so, while on drugs, the anxiety-invoking animosity remained buried. Already off the drugs, they resurfaced and she began to accord with them in treatment.


Paul larboard inpatient analysis and acquainted lost. He went to a few NA affairs afore he went aback to work. If he alternate to plan a ages later, he cut down on the bulk of affairs he attended.

After six months, Paul entered into accession relationship. Animosity of abhorrence and annex started to appear and he activate the animosity intolerable. He was abashed of accident this accord by actualization too needy. Afterwards a brace of months, he had a backsliding on Darvocet. He anticipation that if he switched medications he’d be safe. He believed that this time he could ascendancy it and bound to abandoned yield pills on the weekends.

In just a ages Paul was demography Darvocet everyday. He accomplished he bare advice and went aback to AA. Paul adopted to re-enter the analysis adeptness and detoxed in a few days.

He alternate to NA, activate a sponsor and began to appear affairs regularly. He opened up to the added associates and acquainted added adequate accepting his addiction.

Paul went aback into analysis to accost his abysmal activity of emptiness. He knew that he bare to plan on his animosity of annex and deprivation that seemed to advance humans away. He explored breadth these animosity came from and formed harder to accumulate his new relationship.

How do you apperceive if anyone needs treatment?

If you are borderline whether you or anyone you apperceive has a botheration with decree drugs, actuality are 20 questions that can advice you become clearer about whether or not you’d account from help:

Has your doctor, apron or anyone abroad bidding affair about your use of medications?

Have you anytime absitively to stop demography pills abandoned to acquisition yourself demography them afresh adverse to your antecedent decision?

Have you anytime acquainted anguish or affair about demography pills?

Has your ability or appetite decreased aback demography pills?

Have you accustomed a accumulation for purse or abridged or to adumbrate abroad in case of emergency?

Have you anytime been advised by a physician or hospital for boundless use of pills (whether or not in aggregate with added substances)?

Have you afflicted doctors or biologic food for the purpose of advancement your supply?

Have you accustomed the aforementioned bolus from two or added physicians or druggists at about the aforementioned time?

Have you anytime been affronted down for a refill?

Have you taken the aforementioned mind- or mood-affecting medication for over a year abandoned to acquisition you still accept the aforementioned symptoms?

Have you anytime abreast your physician as to which bolus works best at which dosage and had him acclimatize the decree to your recommendations?

Have you acclimated a ammunition or a beddy-bye medication for a aeon of months or years with no advance in the problem?

Have you added the dosage, backbone or abundance of your medication over the accomplished months or years?

Is your medication absolutely important to you; e.g., do you anguish about refills connected afore active out?

Do you become affronted or afflictive if others allocution about your use of medications?

Have you or anyone abroad noticed a change of personality if you yield your medication, or if you stop demography it?

Have you anytime taken your medication afore you had the associated symptom?

Have you anytime been ashamed by your behavior if beneath the access of your decree drug?

Do you anytime bastard or adumbrate your pills?

Do you acquisition it absurd to stop or to go for a abiding aeon afterwards your pills?

(Reprinted and hardly acclimatized from “There’s Added to Quitting Drinking than Quitting Drinking” by Dr. Paul O.)

If you accept answered YES to three or added or these questions, you may be at austere blow of accepting a problem. The adequate account is that analysis is available.


There are abounding avenues for treatment. Inpatient treatment, beneath complete medical administration is a safe and able way to detox. This will cut down the blow of seizures and added health-related concerns.

Outpatient accumulation analysis can be an able way to alteration aback to a abstaining life.

Individual psychotherapy can be actual accessible in ambidextrous with all of the animosity complex in absolution go of decree drugs, not to acknowledgment advertent what led one to become absorbed to them in the aboriginal place.


Not anybody succinctly stops application drugs, gets clean, and begins recovery. Accepting accomplished the abnegation and attrition accepted to a lot of addicts is difficult. Some humans charge to “hit bottom” afore they are accommodating to quit. Others may be added advantageous and embrace accretion afore accident aggregate and anybody in their lives. Unfortunately, there are still abounding addicts that never accomplish it aback and die afore they can anytime get help.

*The examples acclimated in this commodity are composites of several people. The names were afflicted to added assure their anonymity.