People of any age, income, education level, and gender can abuse prescription medicines.
Millions of Americans use prescription medicines for nonmedical reasons. This includes teens and young adults. Older adults are at higher risk for misuse of prescription medicines because they take more medicines than younger people.
If you continue to refill a prescription for a painkiller after the medical condition for which it was prescribed has been cured, you could be addicted.
Strong painkillers are prescribed for moderate to severe pain that is present day in and day out. Over time, a strong painkiller can lead to a physical dependence. This means that your body has become used to the presence of the medicine and will develop symptoms of withdrawal if you suddenly stop using the medicine. Physical dependence can develop for certain medicines when used over a long period of time even when they are used appropriately. If you develop dependence, you can stop the medicine gradually, in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Addiction, however, refers to a compulsive craving for the medicine or drug. People who are addicted usually can’t quit without help.
Most people who take prescription pain medicines become addicted or physically dependent on them.
Most people don’t become addicted to opioid medication while they’re using it for a legitimate purpose and taking it as directed. To help prevent problems, you should never stop taking or change how you’re taking a medication without first talking with your health care provider. Don’t use another person’s prescription. When your health care provider prescribes a new medication, make sure that he or she knows about all other medicines, herbs, and dietary supplements you take.
Many people who abuse prescription medicines also abuse alcohol and illegal drugs.
The combinations can be fatal, particularly with medicines such as opioids and central nervous system depressants like barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Thousands of people die every year taking a prescription opioid. Many also drink alcohol or take a benzodiazepine along with the opioid medication, increasing their risks for overdose.
Most people addicted to prescription medicines can kick the habit on their own.
Most people cannot walk away from addiction. They need help to get through withdrawal and cope with cravings. Addiction is not a moral failing. Opioids, including painkillers, makes changes to the brain that may result in an overwhelming craving to the drug and it becomes harder to say no to using the drug. Use is compulsive and continues when it causes harm.
People with an addiction to opioids have a disease.
Opioid addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease. A chronic disease is a medical condition for life. It cannot be cured, but it can be managed and treated with medication, counseling and support from family and friends. A person with addiction can regain a healthy, productive life.
Taking medication for opioid addiction is just substituting one addictive drug with another addictive drug.
Opioid addiction medication is like taking medication to control heart disease and diabetes. It can reduce problems of withdrawal and craving and give a person the chance to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living. Medication allows someone to regain a normal state of mind, free from drug-induced highs and lows. If frees a person from thinking all the time about the drug.
Nearly 40% of heroin users started with prescription opioids.
It’s double that amount. The National institute of Drug Abuse reports that 80% of heroin users started with prescription opioid pills.