How to Heal From a Prescription Drug Addiction

Addiction Recovery Publishing Drug Addiction February 12, 2024

How to Heal From a Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is one of the most “cunning, baffling, and powerful” addictions out there. This is because many people become addicted to prescription drugs while under the supervision of a medical professional. People can even become addicted when they are rigorously following the instructions of their prescription. This can also stop people from getting the help they need sooner rather than later because they are unaware that they have a problem. Now, the good news is that when that help is finally sought, there are many effective solutions for healing at the cellular level.

The Prevevelance of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction has boomed in recent years. One of the reasons for this has been the malpractice of prescribing physicians. Another reason for this has been the increased availability of prescription medications without a prescription. Also, there are just way more prescription drugs available than ever before.

Without even taking into account misuse, abuse, and addiction, the amount of medications being prescribed is extremely high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on one doctor’s office visits alone, the number of medications prescribed was 1 billion, and the “Percent of visits involving drug therapy [was] 71.9%.” Hospital and emergency room visits accounted for “361.3 million” drugs being prescribed. These are not insignificant numbers, and they correlate with the amount of prescription drug addictions that currently exist in the U.S.

Regarding prescription drug addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, an estimated 1.8% (or about 5.0 million people) had a prescription opioid use disorder in the past 12 months (2021 DT 5.1).” Also, “In 2021, approximately 16,706 people died from an overdose involving prescription opioids.” Now, these are just the statistics regarding prescription opioids. Similar statistics exist regarding other types of prescription medications.

What Are the Most Common Types of Prescription Drug Addiction?

Most prescription medications can be misused and/or abused. However, there are specific classifications that are abused more, as well as can more readily lead to addiction. As previously alluded to, the primary prescription medications that are the most abused are opioids. This is especially true with fentanyl.

According to the CDC, “Rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, increased over 22% from 2020 to 2021. The rate of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2021 was nearly 22 times the rate in 2013. Nearly 71,000 drug overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2021.” Of course, fentanyl is not the only prescription drug that is commonly abused and causes addiction.

Other types of common prescription drug addiction include antidepressant and antianxiety drug addiction. This can be particularly dangerous because many of these prescriptions utilize the phrase “take as needed,” which can lead an individual down a slippery road of justification.

Perhaps the most common type of prescription addiction after opioid prescription addiction is prescription stimulant addiction. One of the biggest culprits of this type of addiction is the misuse and abuse of Adderall. 

According to the peer-reviewed journal Brain and Behavior, “The nonmedical use of prescription stimulants represents the second common most form of illicit drug use in college, second only to marijuana use… Unfortunately, media reports appear to condone this behavior as 95% of articles mentioned at least one possible benefit of using a prescription stimulant for neuroenhancement, but only 58% mentioned any risks/side effects. Stimulant misuse is often predicted on individuals’ misconceptions or simple lack of knowledge of associated risks.” Other prescription drugs that are often abused are benzodiazepines, sedatives, tranquilizers, and psychotherapeutic drugs.

The Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Now, because prescription drugs can be so varied, it can be hard to categorize them all under one umbrella of physical warning signs, but there are many behavioral warning signs that cross over all of the prescription classifications. The following are just a few of those warning signs:

  • An individual’s prescription runs out before its time, and this happens repeatedly
  • A person starts to “doctor shop,” meaning they seek the same medications from different doctors
  • They start to hide their prescriptions
  • An individual may appear anxious or depressed when their prescription runs out
  • They start to mix prescriptions without a doctor’s approval
  • An individual may start to use alcohol or other illicit substances to supplement their prescription drug addiction
  • They lose interest in activities they once ardently enjoyed
  • An individual may express thoughts of self-harm or suicide if they do not have access to their prescription medications

As one can see, these warning signs are significant and can be very drastic, which is why if any, some, or all of these warning signs are present, it is highly recommended that professional help be sought as soon as possible. Doing this may help a loved one avoid the potentially disastrous side effects of a long-term prescription drug addiction.

The Symptoms and Side Effects of a Long-Term Prescription Drug Addiction

Again, because there are so many types of prescription medications available, it can be somewhat hard to distinctly list specific side effects and symptoms. However, there are overarching physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that tend to transcend a specific prescription category. The following are just a few of those symptoms and side effects:

  • An individual may start to struggle with eating and their appetite, which may include binge eating and/or not getting enough nutrition
  • They may have trouble with sleep patterns, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little 
  • There may be a loss of care regarding their appearance or personal hygiene
  • They may have trouble maintaining employment or their place in academics
  • An individual may start to experience serious health problems, including those related to blood pressure and heart rate
  • There have been studies that link certain cancers to prescription drug addiction
  • They may start to lose their ability to cognitively function appropriately or effectively
  • There is a very real chance of overdose death or premature death related to a prescription drug addiction

These are just a few of the reasons why seeking treatment or seeking treatment for a loved one’s prescription drug addiction is so crucial. It can truly be life or death.

How Can a Prescription Drug Addiction Best Be Treated?

The good news is that there are many effective ways to treat prescription drug addiction. Now, the best way to treat it is via a multi-angle approach. This means creating comprehensive recovery plans that utilize many different treatment modalities.

Now, it is best if these modalities come from different areas of recovery. For example, one may utilize psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to address the underlying issues of a prescription drug addiction. One may also use experiential therapies like nature immersion therapy or surf therapy to actively address the isolation issues related to a prescription drug addiction. An individual may also use holistic methods like meditation and yoga to address the spiritual side of their addiction issues. However, regardless of which assortment of these modalities one uses, they should always be used alongside a focus on nutrition.

Treating a Prescription Drug Addiction With Nutritional Therapy

Many people don’t realize just how nutrient-depleted a prescription drug addiction (or any substance addiction, for that matter) can make someone. These nutrients must be replenished if an individual is going to get back into optimal shape (both inside and out). This can all happen with an effective nutritional therapy plan.

According to the peer-reviewed Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “Nutritional Therapy uses food to prevent and reverse diseases that plague most western societies: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. In order for food to be therapeutic, it must be nutrient-dense, measured in part by the nutrients and anti-nutrients, contained in consumed foods… Nutritional Therapy is also concerned with the way that foods are prepared and delivered for consumption.” This last part is where our team of world-class executive chefs comes in.

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we have a maxim: “Food is medicine.” We believe that nutritious food is essential for healing the mind and body, but we also believe that good, flavorful food is essential for healing the soul. This is why we have renowned chefs preparing amazing locally sourced meals directly on our 30-acre luxury property. We also believe that nutritional therapy makes all other therapies work exponentially better.

Treating a Prescription Drug Addiction With Traditional Mental Health Therapies

Perhaps the most common way that prescription drug addiction is treated is via traditional mental health therapies like psychotherapy. The reason for this is that these traditional therapies have the most evidence surrounding their efficacy, which is why they are also often referred to as “evidence-based” therapies.

These therapies work to get to the underlying issues of one’s prescription drug addiction. They aim to get to the root/core causes of the addiction behaviors because, as is often said in recovery circles, “It is not about the drink or the drug, rather it is about why someone chooses to use that drink or a drug.” One of the most popular (and effective) forms of psychotherapy is CBT.

Utilizing Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

The reason that CBT is so effective is that it works on the underlying cognitions (thoughts) that often direct our emotions and behaviors. It is these emotions and behaviors that ultimately cause an individual to misuse or abuse that prescription medication.

According to the peer-reviewed write-up, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, by Doctors Chand, Kuckel, and Huecker, “CBT is based on a straightforward, common-sense model of the relationships among cognition, emotion, and behavior.” Also, in CBT, “Three aspects of cognition are emphasized: automatic thoughts, cognitive distortions, and underlying beliefs or schemas.” When the distorted thinking causes one’s addictive behaviors are brought to the surface, one can then begin to address and manage those behaviors. Another type of therapy that can help one to manage these underlying issues is ketamine therapy.

Treating a Prescription Drug Addiction With Ketamine Therapy

Many people who struggle with prescription drug addiction also deal with underlying issues of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also, trauma and PTSD are much more prevalent than many people may realize. 

According to the National Center for PTSD and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), “About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.” Also, “About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.” Ketamine therapy can help with this PTSD and subsequent prescription drug addiction.

Studies on ketamine therapy were particularly promising regarding opioid use disorders (the most prominent prescription drug addiction. One study reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that “participants who received three sessions [of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy] demonstrated a significantly higher abstinence rate of 50% compared with 22% for those who received a single session [of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy].” They also found that “Ketamine may also assist in withdrawal from opiates.” Prescription drug addiction can also be treated via holistic methods like meditation and yoga.

Treating a Prescription Drug Addiction With Meditation, Yoga, and Acupuncture

As previously mentioned, it is important to heal at the cellular level, and the best way to do this is to utilize as many modalities from as many different areas of recovery as possible. This includes using methods that are rooted in Eastern medicine, such as yoga and meditation.

Meditation has been shown to be highly beneficial in treating issues of mental health and addiction, which includes prescription drug addiction. One of the reasons why meditation can be so beneficial is that it cultivates a practice of quieting the mind, which can be essential when the mind is racing and obsessing over a drink or a drug.

The benefits of meditation are many. According to the Journal of Research in Ayurveda, “Research has confirmed a myriad of health benefits associated with the practice of meditation. These include stress reduction, decreased anxiety, decreased depression, reduction in pain (both physical and psychological), improved memory, and increased efficiency. Physiological benefits include reduced blood pressure, heart rate, lactate, cortisol, and epinephrine; decreased metabolism, breathing pattern, oxygen utilization, and carbon dioxide elimination; and increased melatonin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), skin resistance, and relative blood flow to the brain.” Similar benefits can be experienced by those who practice yoga.

Like meditation, yoga is a thousands-year-old practice that is now widely utilized in the mental health and addiction recovery sphere. The reason for this is that it has many established benefits, and new benefits are being discovered all the time.

According to the International Journal of Yoga, “Regular practice of yoga promotes strength, endurance, flexibility and facilitates characteristics of friendliness, compassion, and greater self-control while cultivating a sense of calmness and well-being. Sustained practice also leads to important outcomes such as changes in life perspective, self-awareness, and an improved sense of energy to live life fully and with genuine enjoyment.” As one can see, based on the previous lists of symptoms and side effects, yoga can be a perfect combatant to a prescription drug addiction.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Prescription pill addiction can rob us of everything we hold dear. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get it all back and then some.

There is an ancient saying here on the Big Island of Hawaii that goes, “A’a i ka hula, waiho i ka maka’u i ka hale,” which translates to being willing to dream and leave anything (like shame) that doesn’t suit you at home. This is what we aim to do here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab: give people their dreams back by helping them recover from addiction at the cellular level.

Prescription drug addictions are still one of the most prominent types of addiction in the U.S. This is why it can be vital to know what to look out for if you think someone may be struggling with a prescription drug addiction. If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the right road to recovery. For more information on the most misused and abused prescriptions, namely opioids and stimulants, and how the therapy options that Exclusive Hawaii Rehab can help you or your loved one recover from this type of addiction, reach out to us today at (808) 775-0200.