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Prescription Drug Addiction in North Carolina


In 2013, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 4.2 million Americans had abused or were dependent on marijuana. In the same year, 1.9 million Americans had problems with prescription drugs, and 855,000 Americans had a cocaine use problem. There are many drug treatment centers across the United States that are highly successful at treating conditions such as prescription drug addiction in North Carolina, as well as many other states.

What is prescription drug abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is a type of substance use disorder that is caused by the improper dosage or improper methods of consuming the drug. For example, if the drug Ritalin is prescribed to a patient in a pill form that is intended for oral ingestion, a drug abuser may crush the pill into a powder form and snort it. This is known as prescription medication abuse because the drug is not consumed in the manner in which it is prescribed.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who suffer from prescription drug addiction in North Carolina, and other states such as Alabama and Georgia, have a relapse percentage of 40 to 60 percent. Relapse prevention techniques and strategies are taught to patients to aid them in their ongoing struggle to maintain abstinence from drugs during and after their treatment. The relapse prevention techniques consist of therapeutic and mood stabilization techniques that are utilized to reduce stress and resolve emotional instability.

Prescription drug abuse is also caused by the body’s natural way of building a tolerance to a substance that is repeatedly consumed. A prescription medication addict is known to increase the dosage of the prescribed drug, in order to feel the same effect of it due to the tolerance that causes lowered effects. Prescription medication addicts are known to seek identical prescriptions from multiple doctors, or to use the same prescription at multiple drug dispensaries to fuel their drug need.

Commonly abused prescribed drugs

In 2012, according to SAMHSA, there were a total of 51,580 patients who were admitted to drug treatment centers in North Carolina. This number accounts for 0.54% of the total population who received treatment for substance use disorder. The drug-treatment admittance rate was higher in North Carolina than in many other states during that year.

Prescribed drug abuse is among the most common forms of substance abuse found across the United States. The three main types of prescription drugs that are abused are:

Stimulants: Stimulants are prescribed to patients in pill form for attention deficit disorders, among other mental illnesses that have an effect on one’s focus. Medication such as Ritalin, Focalin, Metadate and Concerta, are all stimulants that are prescribed to children and adults to help them with their ability to focus. Stimulants are sometimes also prescribed to treat depression if other forms of treatment are not successful.

Opiates: Opiates such as morphine, Codeine, Oxycontin and Vicodin are prescribed to patients for pain relief. These are among the most commonly abused medical drugs, due to their availability. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of deaths from prescription opiate pain-reliever overdoses, multiplied by 3.4 from 2001 to 2014.

Sedatives: Sedatives are typically prescribed to patients who have anxiety problems or sleep pattern irregularities (insomnia). Some of the sedatives that are prescribed to patients, include Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, and Valium.

What makes prescription drugs addictive?

Prescription drugs have mental and physical effects on the user’s body that are known to cause addiction if the dosage and method of consumption are not followed. These drugs are made up of chemicals that can lead to overstimulation of the reward system in the brain. These chemicals alter the brain’s natural communication system and imitate the brain’s communication messengers, allowing the drug to control the way the brain sends and receives certain communicative messages.

The effect that these drugs have on people can give them a feeling of euphoria that is usually experienced when spending time with loved ones or eating pleasant food. This can lead to addiction when the user continues to abuse the substance in order to improve their mood.

Signs and symptoms of abuse

Prescription medication abusers often display the same symptoms as someone suffering from other substance use disorders. These symptoms can include a lack of focus, inability to be punctual due to their drug dependence, and a general decline in their self-awareness and general appearance. For instance, someone who abuses a sedative may display a lack of focus in business meetings, or may not shave as often due to their decreased energy levels.

The symptoms that can be seen by someone who is suffering from stimulant abuse include: a feeling of euphoria, an increase in body temperature and blood pressure, dilated pupils, increased rate of breathing, a dry mouth, and increased alertness and energy.

Symptoms of someone who is abusing opioids, can include increased levels of anxiety, euphoria, an improved self-esteem, depression, and lowered motivation. The physical effects that opioids have on an abuser, can include fatigue, breathlessness, constipation, nausea, confusion, and even death.

There are many drug treatment centers across America that successfully rehabilitate patients who suffer from prescription drug abuse. Addiction is a treatable mental illness that is effectively treated using therapy techniques and relapse prevention strategies, in conjunction with a patient’s strong willpower and attendance of 12-step programs to aid in maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol. People who suffer from prescription drug addiction often feel that they are alone in the struggle, which is counter-productive to their recovery. 12-step meetings and support groups encourage socializing between addicts who are experiencing similar difficulties in their recovery from drug addiction. This allows for empathy and understandings between members, which can build respect and aid in their recovery progress by having recovery tracked and supported by their peers.

A drug-free lifestyle can be achieved if the addict is willing to seek help. Oftentimes, strong willpower is not enough to beat an addiction. If you are suffering from prescription addiction, seek professional guidance from drug treatment centers in North Carolina as soon as possible.