Healing In Hawaii: Getting Out From Under a Prescription Drug Addiction

Addiction Recovery Publishing Drug Addiction March 25, 2024

Healing In Hawaii: Getting Out From Under a Prescription Drug Addiction

There is little doubt that there is an opioid epidemic in the U.S., one that has been going on for the last few decades. There is also little doubt that a big culprit of this epidemic is the abundance of overprescription of dangerous medications. Now, prescription drug addiction (including many other types of prescription drugs) is one of the most serious and prevalent types of addictions currently facing society. The good news is that there is a solution. There is promise, and there is hope.

The Prevalence of Prescription Drug Addiction in the U.S.

The level of prescription drug addiction in the U.S. is serious and alarming. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), In 2021, “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021: 5.1% (or about 14.3 million people) reported misusing any prescription psychotherapeutic drug in the past 12 months.” Also, “Approximately 16,706 people died from an overdose involving prescription opioids,” and “Approximately 12,499 people died from an overdose involving benzodiazepines.” 

These don’t even include the number of people who died from overdoses related to prescription antidepressants, stimulants, and sedatives. All of these are commonly prescribed prescription drugs that can be both addictive and deadly if not used appropriately. 

The Most Common Types of Prescription Drug Addiction

The most common type of abused prescription medication comes from the class of opioids. However, there are many other types of misused and abused prescription drugs. These include prescription stimulants, psychotherapeutic drugs, tranquilizers and sedatives, benzodiazepines, and other types of pain medications.

Understanding Prescription Stimulants

Perhaps the most popular prescription stimulant right now is Adderall. In fact, it has become so popular that the manufacturers of the drug are having trouble keeping up. This is fine for those who require the drug to combat the symptoms of mental health disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but detrimental for those who are misusing and becoming addicted to the drug.

Many people misuse stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin because they believe that it helps them focus and work longer hours. While this may be true in the beginning, the continued misuse of prescription stimulants can lead to many negative symptoms and side effects. The following are just a few:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns, including long periods of insomnia followed by long periods of oversleeping
  • Issues with appetite and weight control which can lead to eating disorders and disordered eating
  • Clouded thinking and having trouble focusing on one thing for a reasonable period of time
  • Trouble with short-term memory
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Issues with the gut microbiome and digestion
  • Increased feelings of stress, anxiety and depression

Understanding Prescription Psychotherapeutic Drugs

Prescription psychotherapeutic drugs include drugs like mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs. The most common types of these prescription drugs include lithium and aripiprazole.

Many people use these drugs to manage their mental health disorders, such as bipolar I and II disorder, yet others abuse these medications to reach a state of euphoria. However, the euphoria comes with a cost because there can be serious symptoms and side effects from these types of prescription drugs. These side effects include:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Trouble eating, including disordered eating that may cause excessive weight gain or weight loss
  • Chronic nausea
  • Issues regulating mood and experiencing excessive mood swings
  • Cognitive issues
  • Increased feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Extreme withdrawal symptoms if the drug is unavailable

Understanding Prescription Tranquilizers and Sedatives

Prescription tranquilizers and sedatives have long been misused and abused. Perhaps the most popular forms of these prescription drugs are tranquilizers like barbiturates (brand name Seconal) and zolpidem (brand name Ambien). Many people abuse these prescription medications in tandem with alcohol because alcohol heightens the euphoric effect. 

The issue is that these drugs can be both highly addictive and very dangerous, especially with alcohol. Like the previously mentioned prescription drugs, they also have many symptoms and side effects. These symptoms and side effects include:

  • Can cause neurological problems like amnesia
  • May cause blackouts and erratic behaviors
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns, especially regarding long periods of sleep
  • Extreme lethargy
  • The danger of excessive intoxication with alcohol, which can lead to overdose
  • Extreme lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Severe depression
  • Trouble communicating and slurred speech

Understanding Prescription Benzodiazepines

Many people are aware of the brand names of benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. This is because they are currently highly prescribed. Many people in the recovery industry would say excessively so. 

Many people use benzodiazepines to self-medicate for anxiety and to help them sleep. However, this is often just a temporary “fix” to much more serious issues. There are better ways to manage disturbed sleep patterns and issues of anxiety. Also, these other avenues do not have the same type of serious side effects as benzodiazepines. Some of those side effects are as follows:

  • Prolonged confusion 
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Long-term dizziness
  • Experiencing slurred speech
  • Issues with muscle aches and weakness
  • Trouble with both short-term and long-term memory
  • Issues with appetite
  • Extreme depression

Understanding Prescription Opioids and Other Pain Medications

Now, as previously mentioned, prescription opioids are currently the most misused and abused prescription medication in the U.S. They also currently cause the most overdoses and overdose deaths in the country.

According to NIDA, “Overall, drug overdose deaths rose from 2019 to 2021 with more than 106,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2021. Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) continued to rise with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021.” Many professionals also agree that as the statistics come out post-COVID-19 pandemic, these numbers are going to be significantly higher.

Of course, the most serious side effect of prescription opioids and other pain medications is overdose and overdose death. However, there are also other serious side effects. These side effects include (but are not limited to):

  • Respiratory problems
  • Excessive mood swings
  • High levels of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Issues with sleep, including sleeping too much and sleeping too little
  • Extreme withdrawal when the drug is unavailable
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Gastrointestinal problems, including extreme constipation
  • Arrhythmia
  • Excessive itching 
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of self-harm and suicidal ideations

As one can see, all of these prescription medications can not only lead to drug addiction but can also lead to some serious short-term and long-term side effects. This is why anyone who is experiencing issues of prescription drug addiction or feels that their loved one may have a problem should get help as soon as possible. Doing so can be the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences.

Healing in Hawaii: Getting Out From Under a Prescription Drug Addiction

The key to healing from a prescription drug addiction is to get to the root/core causes of one’s issues. There is a maxim in many recovery circles that goes, “The addiction to the substances is but a symptom of the real problem.”

Many people misuse and abuse prescription medications because they are struggling with deeper issues. Often, these issues are related to instances of trauma, or they are struggling with issues of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there are also people who are struggling with undiagnosed mental health disorders or have trouble in social situations.

It is only when these deeper issues are truly addressed that one’s addiction can begin to be treated, and the individual can ultimately heal at the cellular level. This means healing one’s whole mind, body, and spirit. Also, Hawaii is one of the best places for this to occur, as it has the type of serene setting where one can relax and focus on healing from their addiction issues. However, with a prescription drug addiction, many people must first go through a safe and secure detox.

The Importance of a Safe and Secure Detox

Thinking about detoxing from a prescription drug addiction can be very daunting. However, with the right professional help and a safe setting, it can actually go quite smoothly with minimal issues or side effects. It should be noted that a detox should always be done in the care of professionals, as not doing so can not only be painful, but it can also be deadly (especially with benzodiazepines).

A safe and secure detox is also going to ensure that an individual’s nutrition levels are replenished, as many people struggling with prescription drug addiction don’t realize how truly depleted they can become. People detoxing from prescription medications need the right vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants so they can truly begin to heal at the cellular level. 

Healing at the cellular level is also going to require therapy. Yes, most likely traditional neuroscientific therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), but also other types of therapies like experiential and holistic therapies. One effective experiential therapy that can help one heal from a prescription drug addiction is nature immersion therapy. 

The Benefits of Nature Immersion Therapy

As previously mentioned, Hawaii is an ideal place to recover because it offers a setting where one can reach a state of essential calm and focus solely on getting better. It is also an ideal place because it offers the type of nature, like majestic waterfalls, live volcanoes, and scenic overlooks, that can help one immerse oneself in nature immersion therapy.

Nature immersion therapy is a therapy where one connects to nature so they can better connect to themselves. They interact with nature and then work with a therapist to discuss the feelings that those interactions bring up. Often, this process starts to get to the root/core causes of one’s issues.

Nature immersion therapy also has many specific benefits. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Besides physical health improvements, nature exposure can bring about positive influence upon psychological constructs such as boredom, friendliness, wellbeing and liveliness.” Also, “Besides improvements to physical and psychological well-being, exposure to natural environments has been shown to bring about positive impacts on cognitive functioning… While cognitive restoration and physiological well-being are the prominent and renowned benefits of nature exposure, there is one important construct that is often overlooked in environmental psychology research studies—that is, the human-nature relationship; also known as connectedness to nature (CN).”

This connectedness to nature is highly accessible in the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island and not just in its landscape. It is also available in the beauty that is the big blue Pacific Ocean. 

The Benefits of Surf Therapy

Surf therapy is a type of experiential therapy where one connects with waves to better connect to themselves. It also offers a sense of peace and tranquility, especially when one is waiting between waves and meditating. Also, one of the best places to do this is a mere 15 minutes away from Exclusive Hawaii Rehab’s luxury 30-acre property at a surf break known as Honoli’i.

Like traditional nature immersion therapy, surf therapy also has many specific and exclusive benefits. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Carefully planned water activities tailored to the needs of the individual can contribute to correct psychosocial and cognitive development. The International Surf Therapy Organization summarizes the benefits of adequately indicated surf therapy as follows: improved physical health and mobility; improved mental health, including reduction of specific symptoms, such as posttraumatic stress and depression]; improved well-being (strengthening of trust and confidence, encouragement of independence, resilience and protective coping strategies) and improved social skills.”

Though it doesn’t take place in the water, another method of treatment in Hawaii that can be highly beneficial to recovery from a prescription drug addiction is yoga. It doesn’t take place in the water, but it can certainly take place overlooking the water.

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has been practiced for over 3,000 years. While it originally started as a religious or spiritual practice, due to its benefits, it is now used in many different capacities. This includes its use as therapy for those struggling with addiction.

The benefits of yoga are vast and varied. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions. Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional, and spiritual pain, suffering, or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” Another highly beneficial and premier type of therapy that we offer at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab is horticulture therapy.

The Benefits of Horticulture Therapy

Like yoga, horticulture has been used for thousands of years as a practice of relaxation. Also, like yoga, it is now utilized as a therapy for mental health issues and addiction (including prescription drug addiction).

Horticulture therapy can truly help one heal at the cellular level. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “People’s interactions with plants, through goal-orientated horticultural activities in the form of active gardening, as well as the passive appreciation of nature, could be therapeutic to people with mental disorders in many ways. First, horticulture could have emotional benefits, such as reducing stress, reducing psychiatric symptoms, stabilizing mood, and increasing the sense of tranquility, spirituality, and enjoyment. Second, it could help people to reduce fatigue and restore attention and cognitive ability.”

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

There is a traditional saying on Hawaii’s Big Island that goes, “‘A’OHE PU’U KI’EKI’E KE HO’A’O ‘IA E PI’I.’” This translates to “There is no mountain so high that it cannot be climbed.” Yes, we know that a prescription drug addiction can feel like a mountain too tall to climb. 

However, we know that at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we will climb and conquer that mountain together. This is what we know we are capable of together. It is also what it means to heal at the cellular level.

Prescription drug addiction has hit epidemic levels in the U.S. This is especially true with prescription stimulants like Adderall and prescription opioids like fentanyl. The good news is that there is hope for recovery, as there are many modalities that can help people heal from prescription drug addiction. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental health, or both, we can help get you on the right road to recovery. For more information on how to overcome a prescription drug addiction and heal at the cellular level, mind, body, and soul, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.