Clinically Reviewed on: 26/08/2022 11:00 am by Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist)
All information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
When most people picture drug addiction, they are probably thinking of illegal substances like heroin or cocaine, or newer threats like the lab-made cannabinoids generally known as spice. They might not think that prescription medications like painkillers and anti-depressants are as harmful or addictive. Unfortunately, many people do become addicted to prescription drugs, they can be every bit as dangerous.
The USA has experienced what has been described as an ‘epidemic’ of prescription drug abuse, for example. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses including prescription painkillers.1 The situation in the UK is not quite so bad but is still a serious problem.
A 2019 Public Health England (PHE) review found that nearly 12 million adults in England were on prescription medications and concluded that the widespread prescription of drugs including opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills needed to change.
Not everyone who uses prescription drugs is addicted to them of course, and the majority use medications for legitimate reasons and as directed. There can be dangers even when this is the case, however. A government report said: “Considerable concern has been raised regarding prescribing rates of opioids in the UK and the awareness of healthcare professionals and patients of the risks of dependence and addiction.” It added that long-term use of opioids could lead to addiction, even when used at “therapeutic doses”.3
The risks can be even higher if you misuse the drug. This could include taking higher doses or using the drug more frequently, using other people’s prescription drugs or using these medications recreationally.
The symptoms of prescription drug addiction can vary depending on the medication involved and other factors but some general signs to look out for include:
• Taking higher doses or using more regularly than directed
• Increased tolerance (i.e. the drug has less effect)
• Anxiety when you don’t have or use the drug
• A compulsion to continue taking the drug
• Seeking out the drug through unofficial or illegal channels
• Being dishonest with doctors to get more medication
• Withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use the drug
Are you suffering from a Cannabis addiction and need help? Cassiobury Court is a leading UK based expert in Private Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Treatment. Find out how we can help by getting in touch with our friendly team today.
There are 5 main types of prescription drugs that we treat. These are:
• Opiates – these are typically used in pain management and include drugs such as Morphine and Codeine.
• Stimulants – which speed up the central nervous system, giving a feeling of alertness and helping some people focus through drugs.
• Sedatives – typically used to help people get to sleep or as a tranquiliser through drugs such as temazepam.
• Hypnotics – these are used for anaesthetic purposes, or to induce sleep.
• Anti-anxiety drugs – which can help with anxiety by slowing the heart or producing a tranquilising effect.
There are many individual medications within these broad categories, which may go by brand, generic or ‘street’ names (when traded illegally and used recreationally). Some of the most commonly encountered at rehab include Percocet, OxyContin/oxycodone, Lortab and Vicodin.
There are a number of elements to an addiction to prescription drugs. You may build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning you need more and more of it for the same effect. As your system gets used to the drug being present, it can come to rely on the chemicals involved.
This physical dependency can result in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is removed or even reduced. You may also develop a psychological dependency on the drug. In common with other addictions, a prescription drug addiction is characterised by a compulsion to continue using, even when you know there might be negative consequences.
Long-term use of these drugs can also change the way your brain works, particularly in areas such as pleasure and reward.
Rehab aims to treat all these different parts of an addiction through a comprehensive programme of treatments tailored to fit your own unique situation.
This will involve a detox to get the drugs out of your system and a programme of evidence-led therapies and other treatments designed to address the root causes and psychological aspects of your addiction. All this is delivered in a calm and secure rehab environment by a team of dedicated and experienced recovery professionals.
Long-term use of many prescription drugs can lead to a dependency requiring detoxification, more commonly known simply as detox.
This is when you process the drugs out of your system and it can be accompanied by a range of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. These can vary widely but can be severe and sometimes dangerous, particularly with opioid-based painkillers.
It is always wisest to undergo detox in a medically supervised environment like rehab if at all possible, as you can receive medical care and intervention if needed.
At the same time, a thorough and holistic rehab programme will look at the underlying causes and psychological aspects of your addiction. These can be explored through techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling and group therapy. You will also learn techniques and strategies for dealing with cravings and triggers to avoid relapsing back to the drug once you leave.
Rehab gives you the help and environment you need to quit and the tools and knowledge you need to steer clear of prescription drugs and other harmful substances moving forward.
Every person in recovery will have challenges moving forward though, which is why we provide a year’s free tailored aftercare. This can provide extra support in the weeks and months after you complete your treatment, which can be particularly risky in terms of relapse.
It’s always best to avoid this situation but if you do relapse, aftercare support can help make sure that this is a setback you get through, rather than the end of your recovery.
If you are worried about your prescription drug use or any other substance issue, contact us today for confidential help and advice. Admitting that you have a problem is always a huge step forward and we can talk you through the options, whether rehab ends up being the right way forward for you or not.
Medically assisted detox is a course of physical addiction treatment by which withdrawal symptoms are monitored and managed by trained professionals. Cassiobury Court administers this treatment at our rehabilitation centres detox clinic. During your treatment, any alcohol withdrawal and/or substance abuse withdrawal symptoms that you present with will be carefully managed with medication. The medication that you receive during this treatment will also depend on what addiction it is that you are overcoming.
Rehab programmes can vary from treatment plan to treatment plan, often due to the fact that some people opt for inpatient and some people opt for outpatient. However, the majority of the inpatient treatment plans that we provide here at Cassiobury Court typically last for around 28 days. This might seem like quite a long time to be with us, but the time will fly by.
Essentially, the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is that with inpatient treatment you live within the treatment facility for the duration of your treatment. This is quite simply why inpatient treatment is so much more effective as you will not have access to drugs or alcohol at our facility. With outpatient treatment, you will be retuning home after attending each treatment at a local centre, which means that relapse rates can be quite high with outpatient programmes.
Raffa Bari - Author - Last updated: 26th August 2022
Raffa manages the day to day caring services here at Cassiobury Court. Dedicated to the treatment and well being of our visitors she is an outstanding mental health coach registered with BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists). Raffa has outstanding experience in managing rehabs across the country and is vastly experienced at helping people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist) - Medical Reviewer - Last Reviewed: 26/08/2022 11:00 am
MBBS, PG Dip Clin Ed, OA Dip CBT, OA Dip Psychology, SCOPE Certified
Dr Lapa graduated in Medicine in 2000 and since this time has accrued much experience working in the widest range of psychiatric settings with differing illness presentations and backgrounds in inpatient, community and secure settings. This has been aligned to continuation of professional development at postgraduate level in clinical research which has been very closely related to the everyday clinical practice conducted by this practitioner as a NHS and Private Psychiatrist.
He is fully indemnified by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) and MIAB Expert Insurance for Psychiatric and Private Medical practice. He is fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK with a licence to practice.
Dr Lapa is approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983)
Member of Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BMA) and The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)
Dr Lapa’s extensive experience has also concentrated on the following areas of clinical practice:
– Assessment, Diagnosis and Pharmacological Treatment for Adults with ADHD.
– Drug and Alcohol Dependency and maintaining abstinence and continued recovery
– Intravenous and Intramuscular Vitamin and Mineral Infusion Therapy
– Dietary and Weight Management and thorough care from assessment to treatment to end goals and maintenance
– Aesthetic Practice and Procedures
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We are committed in helping individuals, families and communities achieve full recovery and freedom from drug and alcohol addiction.
We shadow our clients on their journey to recovery; understanding their addiction history and working in unison to create a new future – sustaining recovery and changing lives for all of our clients.
Please note that this website is being updated. Ring the Admissions number for more information on current treatments offered.