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Is Prescription Drug Abuse a Trap?

Surprise! You wake up one day and realize you can’t live without the drug that was prescribed to you for a legitimate reason. There may be no intent (on your part) to use medication other than the way your physician recommended. But finding yourself in the thrails of prescription drug abuse can be a slippery slope.

There are a few things you need to know about prescription drug abuse:

Your Body Will Acclimate
Pharmaceuticals are developed with the expectation your body will acclimate to using the drug. What this means is simple. You need a certain amount of the chemical in your body for it to be effective. This is called therapeutic dose. The body adjusts to this level of use and sometimes it requires more for the same effect. This is how we often define dependency. With some medications it is the goal for you to adjust to the medication lets say for pain relief. When the dose diminishes the pain reappears. This can create not only the return of the pain for which it was intended, but also can mimic pain in and of itself. This can create a phenomenon I would call the “dog chasing the tail”. The pain levels require increased medication. The more medication is increased the more pain or phantom pain increases.

Take As Prescribed
There is a very useful way of sorting out if you are abusing prescription drugs. Ask yourself this question, “Am I taking the medication AS PRESCRIBED”? If you are not able to answer with a yes you are most likely abusing the drug. Another way of determining if you are abusing the drugs has to do with how you think. Are you preoccupied with when you can take the next dose? Are you new concerned about having the medication even when you have plenty of them left for normal dosing? This mental obsession is a key element in abuse of prescriptions.

Get Good Medical Advice
If you think you may be experiencing prescription drug abuse you need to have good medical advice. This needs to include a physician who understands the physical disorder you are facing. You also need someone who understands addiction on your team. Your physician MAY NOT have a sensitivity to your concern about abusing the drug. It is your responsibility to make sure they understand your struggle with the abuse issue.

Be Accountable
For some the choice of drug may be limited to have the intended effect your physician is trying to achieve. If this is the case, you need to have an accountability person who can monitor your drug usage. You may want to have contact with a therapist or counselor to make sure you deal with how you are thinking and the effect this thinking has on your overall mental and emotional health. Get Support DO NOT isolate yourself in the struggle. You need others for support and understanding. It is difficult enough to fight the physical problems you do not need to lose a battle to the drugs intended to help. Prescription drug abuse is very common and appears to be growing. Take the time to recognize how you use medications. Are you abusing them or using them as prescribed. If you are abusing them, there is help.

Wendell J. Montney, Ph.D, CAAC, CCS-M writes on behalf of Kairos Heathcare. Where he is involved in conducting research in substance abuse, mental health, co-occurring disorders.