In the late 1990s, there was a surge in prescription medications, specifically opioids.
As a result of this spike in medications, more and more people began using opioids more often and eventually became addicted to them, resulting in a mass epidemic known as the opioid crisis. Despite the opioid epidemic in California, various myths about prescription drug abuse still circulate. Our addiction treatment center in Palm Springs is tackling the myths and facts about prescription drug abuse as well as making its dangers clear.
What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?
A major reason why myths about prescription pill abuse have taken root is that many people don’t fully understand what it is. Prescription drug abuse refers to the use of prescription medication in any way that wasn’t directed by your doctor. For example, if your doctor tells you to take 20mg of a medication every day and you take 50 mg instead, then that would qualify as prescription drug abuse. If a doctor tells you to only take the prescribed dose once a day and you take it more often than that, that would also be considered prescription drug abuse. Abusing medications essentially refers to an increase in frequency or dosage of the medication.
Some commonly abused prescription drugs include:
- Sleep medications
- Dextromethorphan (DXM)
Most if not all prescription medications are addictive; taking them more often or taking a higher dose than directed by a doctor can cause a person’s tolerance to increase. As their tolerance to these drugs increase, a person may take more and more to feel the same side effects. This pattern of behavior usually results in an addiction that’s difficult to quit without professional assistance. At Banyan Treatment Centers Palm Springs, we have firsthand experience with treating prescription drug addiction. Patients who receive care at our facility usually begin their treatment with our prescription pill detox. Our detox programs are medically supervised and therefore provide patients with the form of care needed to help them safely complete the withdrawal process.
6 Myths About Prescription Drug Abuse
Separating the truths and myths about prescription drug addiction can be difficult to do. Certain myths contradict each other, and others are so common that it’s almost difficult not to believe them. We’ve found 6 common myths about prescription drug abuse and debunked them.
Myth #1: Prescription drugs are safe because they’re prescribed.
This is probably the most common misconception about prescription drug abuse. Although it’s not wrong to trust your doctor, they prescribe medications at certain doses and frequencies for a reason. Doctors are aware of how these medications can affect your body and prescribe a dose that will be suitable to your needs. If you go over this dose or take it more often than directed, you risk developing additional health problems, addiction, and even overdose. Prescription medications are safest when you take them as prescribed by your doctor.
Myth #2: Prescription drugs will help you perform better at school or work.
Adderall and other medications are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because they increase alertness and concentration. Because of these side effects, many people assume that if they take these medications, it will help them perform better at school or work. However, taking ADHD medication if you don’t have ADHD may not help or make a difference. These medications are also meant to adjust a chemical imbalance in the brain, which causes neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD. Taking medications that aren’t specifically prescribed to you or taking them without any actual ailments can worsen your health and do more harm than good in the long run.
Myth #3: You can take drugs prescribed to you as often as you want.
Another assumption people make about prescription medications is that they can use them as often as they want. Just because a medication is prescribed to you does not mean that you can take it however you want. This medication may only be helpful and suitable for you in the dose it was prescribed. Taking more of it may worsen your condition and cause other health issues.
Myth #4: You can share prescription drugs with other people who used to take them.
This happens a lot within families. Your family member has run out of their prescription or hasn’t needed to take it for a while when suddenly they’re experiencing similar ailments as before. They may ask you for one or two of your pills just to help. Whether they’re simply waiting for their pharmacy or just need the medication for that moment, you should never share your prescription drugs with anyone. Not only may the doses be different, but you may unintentionally be feeding someone’s addiction without realizing it. If a person has an ailment that may require medication, they should go to their doctor and follow the doctor’s orders.
Myth #5: You can mix your prescription drugs because they’re all prescribed to you anyways.
No. You never want to mix any medications. Ever. Again, unless directed to by your doctor, you should always avoid taking any prescription drugs together. Just because they’re all prescribed to you doesn’t mean they’re all meant to be taken simultaneously. Individuals who take several medications should keep them separated and organize them by the time and dose they have to take them to avoid any dangerous drug interactions.
Myth #6: You can stop taking them whenever you want.
Not only can it be dangerous to stop taking your medications, but it’s also extremely difficult to quit using prescription drugs once you’re addicted. Drug addiction is both mental and physical. Not only do your brain and body change and adapt to the drug, but you may also develop an emotional attachment as well. For most people with drug addictions, the thought of not using anymore can be terrifying. That’s why so many are in denial about their problem or are hesitant to receive residential addiction treatment.
It’s important to be aware of these prescription drug abuse facts and myths. Bottom line is that any form of substance abuse is dangerous. The abuse or overuse of prescription drugs can lead to a variety of problems, including addiction.