Prescription Drug Addiction Phases

The road to prescription drug addiction is different for every person. For some, it comes after long-term, legitimate use of a medically prescribed drug. For others, it comes after misusing a prescription drug that hasn’t been prescribed to them. It doesn’t matter whether a person has “accidentally” fallen into addiction or has become addicted after deliberate misuse; addiction is addiction, and it often requires treatment in order to overcome it.

If you or someone you love is addicted to prescription drugs, understanding the stages of drug addiction can help you determine if addiction treatment is necessary. To help you recognize the signs of each stage, here are the four phases of prescription drug addiction.

Prescription Drug Addiction Phase I: Non-medical Use

Non-medical use of prescription drugs is the first sign that someone is on the road to addiction. People who do not have a prescription for painkillers may experiment with them as a way to “have fun” or to help them cope with a problem. Sometimes this experimentation can occur without any desire to continue using the drug. For some people, however, non-medical experimentation can become a problem and move into the second stage of prescription drug addiction.

For people who do have medical prescription, non-medical use includes taking your prescription more often than prescribed, taking pills not prescribed to you, or taking more than the recommended dose. When a person starts taking their prescription non-medically, it’s usually a sign that they’re taking their painkillers to get high, as opposed to treating the pain. This is a strong indicator that a person is about to spiral into addiction.

Prescription Drug Addiction Phase II: Misuse

Misusing prescription drugs is similar to non-medical use, but it’s done at a chronic level. In other words, if you’ve taken more than the recommended dose a couple of times, this is considered non-medical use. But if you find yourself regularly misusing prescription drugs, then you’ve slipped into the second phase of prescription drug addiction. This is a crucial phase in addiction because it is where a person’s tolerance is built up, which means they will have to keep increasing the dosage amount in order to keep experiencing the same pain relief or type of high. Tolerance is the gateway into dependence and addiction. Opiate painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Fentanyl and others are especially prone to dependence and addiction if misused beyond their recommended doses.

Prescription Drug Addiction Phase III: Abuse

Chronic misuse of prescription drugs is a clear sign of drug abuse. Other signs of prescription drug abuse are relationship problems, missed work and problems meeting other responsibilities. This is the stage where the warning signs of addiction begin to appear: craving, preoccupation with the drug, and symptoms of depression, irritability and fatigue if the drug is not used. These symptoms of withdrawal are an indication that a person has become physically dependent on the prescription painkiller.

Prescription Drug Addiction Phase IV: Addiction

Physical dependence can quickly spiral into psychological dependence, which means a person has entered the final stage of prescription drug addiction. Physical dependence refers to the withdrawal symptoms a person will feel if the drug is not used. Psychological dependence refers to the compulsive need to keep using the drug, despite severe negative consequences to your relationships, physical and mental health, personal finances, job and criminal record. Other signs of psychological dependence are cravings, obsessing over obtaining the drug, and timing doses so you never come down. This often leads to trying to get more pills from your doctor, doctor shopping in order to get more prescriptions of the same drug, and even buying illegal pills off the street.

Getting Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

If you or someone you love exhibits any of these signs of prescription drug addiction, residential treatment can put you or your loved one on the road to recovery. Residential treatment for prescription drug abuse provides a structured environment that’s free of temptations and distractions, and provides round-the-clock care and support to help the individual focus on recovery. Residential treatment programs will provide supervised detoxification from the prescription drug’s harmful toxins, individual and group therapy to learn new behavior skills, and holistic therapies such as yoga, meditation and equine therapies to heal the spirit and mind as well as the body.

At Casa Palmera, we also offer chronic pain management to help you control pain without the use of prescription drugs. The Casa Palmera Chronic Pain Program is led by physicians who specialize in treating patients who are compromised by pain and have a history of prescription drug abuse. Our program includes holistic therapies such as massage, acupuncture, neurofeedback/biofeedback, stress reduction, yoga, laser therapy, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more to reduce pain without medication.

Don’t let prescription drug abuse and chronic pain define who you are any longer. Get the help you need and deserve at a quality prescription drug rehab. Call Casa Palmera today.

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