Learning the facts about prescription anxiety medication addiction
Addiction to prescription anxiety medication has risen to epidemic proportions in the United States. Anxiety medications became widely prescribed because practitioners relied on their Schedule IV rating, which signifies drugs with beneficial effects and only a low addiction potential. In real world situations, users become tolerant quickly and end up taking more of their medication than prescribed. Prescription anxiety medication addiction swiftly develops, leaving users with physical and psychological symptoms that can be severely damaging to their quality of life. Patients are left struggling to overcome addiction symptoms that can be more debilitating than the condition the drugs were prescribed to treat.
Four anxiety medications (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan) regularly appear on lists of the most commonly abused prescription medications. In addition to being some of the most addictive prescription drugs on the market, anxiety medications are also some of the most deadly. Xanax and Valium are two of the top 10 drugs involved in drug overdoses, according to the CDC. Despite the high rates of addiction and overdose, anxiety medications are among the most commonly prescribed medications. Doctors write out more than 50 million prescriptions for anxiety medications such as Valium, Librium, Xanax, and Ativan in United States each year. These drugs are prescribed for a variety of conditions in addition to anxiety, such as panic disorders, migraines, seizures, and insomnia.
How anxiety medication addiction develops
Once individuals begin taking their prescribed anxiety medications, they quickly develop tolerance and need to take more of the medication in order to achieve the same relief from symptoms. As users begin to take higher doses than those prescribed, they begin to display the emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms of anxiety medication addiction.
Symptoms of prescription anxiety medication addiction
Signs and symptoms of anxiety medication addiction include drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, and poor concentration. Users will develop problems with memory. As addiction to anxiety medication progresses, behavioral symptoms appear. This includes stealing and selling prescriptions, taking higher doses than prescribed , and increasingly poor decision-making.
Once users become psychologically addicted to these medications, they feel they can no longer function without them. They become focused on obtaining these anxiety drugs above all else. This has a devastating effect on addicted individuals’ relationships, school and work performance, and indeed every aspect of their lives.
Who faces the risks of taking prescription anxiety medications
Anxiety medication does provide some valuable benefits, but it also poses serious risks for users of all ages. The American Psychological Association reports that teens who have been prescribed anti-anxiety medications may be up to 12 times more likely to abuse these drugs as teens who have never taken those prescriptions. Elderly patients who take anxiety medication experience an increased rate of falls that cause hip and femur fractures. The effects of cognitive deterioration in the elderly can also be worsened by the effects of anxiety medication.
Treatment for prescription anxiety drug addiction
Treatment for prescription anxiety drug addiction usually involves a stay at an inpatient addiction rehab center where patients undergo a medically supervised detox before beginning therapy. Withdrawal from anxiety medication produces severe symptoms that can be so unpleasant that fear of enduring these symptoms is often the reason addicts are reluctant to seek help for prescription drug addiction. Medically supervised detox makes this process much more endurable through the administration of medicine that relieves the worst of these symptoms. Detox may take anywhere from a week to months, as users are slowly weaned off the medications.
Once detox is complete, rehab from prescription anxiety drugs involves behavioral therapy and educational sessions to learn relapse prevention techniques. Rehab for anxiety drug addiction typically lasts from 30 to 90 days, and may include a stay at a sober living community to help prevent relapses.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.