Benzodiazepine addiction and Prescription Drugs abuse are one of the fastest growing addictions in the UK today. As many as 1.5 million people are affected. They are classified as prescription drugs because they can be prescribed by doctors for legitimate medical reasons but of course, abusers and addicts also obtain them through the black market.
In 2007, the United Nations stated that the abuse and trafficking of legal prescription drugs, including stimulants and painkillers, was outstripping virtually all illegal drugs, except cannabis and that the demand was fuelling an international market in counterfeit drugs.
GPs prescribe various medications for a range of medical issues. These prescribed medications need to be taken as prescribed for them to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Unfortunately, some people do not realise that these prescribed medications should only be taken as prescribed. which sometimes may be for a short-term. The use of prescription medication becomes a problem when people take more than the prescribed dose. Essentially, by doing this you are over-dosing on the drug. Individuals become physically addicted to a medication once they start abusing it, and sometimes without even knowing it. Addicts then tend to obtain more of the drug through other means such as purchasing from the street, over the internet or switching between doctors in order to obtain more of the medication to attain the same euphoric effect as their body become more tolerant to it.
Benzodiazepines are Central Nervous System depressants used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Those that are commonly abused are Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam, Alprazolam (Xanax), Temazepam and the Z-drugs - Zopiclone and Zolpidem. They are either obtained on prescription by a doctor or illicitly by buying them on the internet or from street dealers.
Other CNS drugs commonly abused are Pregabalin and Gabapentin. Some also abuse antidepressants like Citalopram and Mirtazapine, while others abuse CNS Stimulants like Dexamphetamine usually used to treat ADHD. Another huge class of prescription drugs that are commonly abused are Opiates – often prescribed to treat pain - Codeine, Tramadol, OxyContin, Oxycodone, Morphine (MST), and Fentanyl.
Addiction or dependency is characterised by a feeling of not being able to go without a drug and a desperate need to obtain and consume the drug to relieve feelings that arise from not having it. At this stage, if they were to abruptly stop taking the medication, they will experience some quite nasty withdrawal symptoms as they are now psychologically and physically dependent on the drug. Therefore, doing this should only be under the instruction of a doctor via arranging a medical detox.
It is noteworthy that not all prescription drugs are capable of inducing a physical dependency but benzodiazepines and opiates are associated with severe physical dependency.
These are many and varied and depend on the type and dose of the drug. The picture above showing the long-term effects of Xanax (Alprazolam) abuse is applicable to all benzodiazepines. Generally, there are short-term effects and risks from prolonged use of all the earlier-listed prescription drugs. These include:
The effects of opioid prescription abuse or addiction are similar to the effects of heroin use as shown in the picture below:
Addiction to benzodiazepines and some prescription drugs results in physical dependence, hence users develop severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop. Stopping on their will be dangerous. For example, benzo addicts can develop a seizure amongst other symptoms if they stop abruptly. Such users will require medical detoxification treatment. Benzodiazepine addiction to drugs like Diazepam, Alprazolam, Lorazepam and others require a benzodiazepine detox treatment. Opiate addiction from drugs like Codeine, Tramadol, OxyContin, Oxycodone or MST requires opioid detox treatment. Other prescription drug addiction may also require a detoxification treatment as appropriate or gradual and safe reduction of the dose of the drug.
Medical detoxification treatment is usually delivered together with intensive psychological treatments to deal with the psychological dependence.
If you or a loved one has an addiction to benzodiazepine or prescription drugs, please call us and speak to one of our specialist addiction counsellors. You will be guided to the most suitable treatment option to meet your needs.
Call Rehab Healthcare now for immediate help!
These are mainly Codeine-based painkillers such as Ibuprofen and Codeine (Nurofen Plus) and Paracetamol and Codeine (Solpadeine). Also Codeine-based cough syrup mixtures.
Codeine, if taken regularly over a period of time can produce physical dependence that will result in withdrawal symptoms if stopped. In addition, it is possible to create a psychological dependence e.g using the drug to cope with or lower anxiety. A characteristic of addiction is that the awareness of the excessive and continued use actually increases anxiety.
Potential for physical damage to the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Mental problems - anxiety, panic attacks, depression, paranoia and mental breakdown can also occur.
There is no shame in admitting that you have an addiction to prescription medication as it is often something that just creeps up on people without their full awareness of the extent of the problem. If you or someone you know has an addiction to benzos or prescription medication, call Rehab Healthcare now for free and confidential advice, before the situation gets worse.