The ritual of taking drugs can be just as addicting as the actual drugs themselves. Sitting in a circle with peers, passing around a joint, rolling a hundred dollar bill before snorting cocaine—these are all aspects of the drug experience that many drug users enjoy just as much as they do taking the actual drugs. This kind of enjoyment is also what many people notice when they suspect their friends might have addiction problems.
But what about prescription drugs? Prescription drugs are highly addictive, easily obtained, and discrete. The act of popping a pill is so easy and innocuous that no one would suspect anything. There is no elaborate ritual to tip off anyone.
But prescription drugs are a huge problem in the US, that is only worsening by the day. In 2012, the DEA set a quota of 98 million grams (108 tons) of oxycodone and 59 million grams (65 tons) of hydrocodone (Vicodin) to be produced in the country. Despite these drugs being a controlled substance, the black market makes them easily obtainable. Pills can range from $1.50-$5.00 a pill. In 2008—the last year stats were reported—nearly 15,000 Americans died from overdose. Opioids—pain relievers—depress respiration. Taking too many of them, or mixing them with other drugs, can cause someone to stop breathing.
Prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone are not unlike other addictive substances. As we mentioned in our crystal meth post, users feel a sense of euphoria that is extremely pleasing. People seek to replicate that high, which develops into an addiction. Prescription drugs are no different. Here’s a depiction of a former addict’s experience. She originally was prescribed oxycodone for a legitimate medical condition, but soon the drug took over.
“After taking the oxycodone my pain had diminished, but there was something else happening. I noticed that I had a sense of euphoria, and I felt energized and mellow at the same time. I realized I had stumbled onto something amazing. I was sure I had uncovered the holy grail of wellbeing. I was in the zone—feeling contemplative and reflective.
I felt great, and I craved more of those same feelings. At some point, I began to chase the “high.” The urges came on quietly at first. I began shaving a few hours off between doses, and even though I knew this behavior would result in my running out early, I was, nevertheless, compelled to continue. It seemed like the more of the drug I had in my system, the more fantastic I felt.
I became isolated in my home like a prisoner. I was way too wasted to drive anywhere, or I was always sleeping. I’d sit alone in my living room, slumped over on the couch. I would have moments of clarity when my rational brain would scream at me to stop. However, those messages were always overridden by the compulsion to keep taking more.
Over the course of several weeks, I stopped showering, brushing my teeth, and I slept in my clothes. The house looked as if a tornado had hit it, with stacks of dirty dishes in the sink and laundry piled up. I stopped answering the phone altogether. I had no appetite, and felt sick afterward when I did eat. I kept telling myself that I would stop tomorrow, but it was obvious—even to me—that I had lost the ability to make a conscious choice.”
As you can tell, it’s not difficult to develop a prescription drug addiction. Even those with the purest intentions find themselves hooked and looking for more.
One of the major reasons why prescription drug abuse is so difficult for friends and families to detect is that possessing these drugs is not illegal. If you noticed a bag of coke or marijuana on your friend’s kitchen table, a red flag would be raised. If you saw erratic behavior after that incident, you would probably attribute that behavior to the drugs and look to confront your friend.
But what if you were to see a friend with prescription drugs? You would likely think they had a medical condition and the drugs were to help manage that condition. And this is probably true. An actual doctor probably prescribed them. You would assume any erratic behavior is a side effect of the drugs, which is justified since your friend is just trying to deal with a condition. So how would you know if your friend is addicted to prescription drugs? You see, it’s much harder to determine prescription drug abuse. Pay close attention to your friend’s social behaviors; your friend may be silently suffering from an addiction and would benefit from outside help.
Treatment centers like Prominence can help prescription addicts with detox as well as rehab treatment. Prescription drug abuse is just as difficult to overcome as street narcotics such as crack and heroin. If you or a loved one might have a problem with prescription drugs, do not hesitate to call us. Do not let prescription drugs silently grab a hold of your life and control it.