Painkiller Abuse

Painkiller abuse & the corresponding rise in prescription drug rehab is being described as a national epidemic.  Each year several million more people are using prescription medications that have addictive properties, and ever greater numbers are becoming addicted.  Overdose from painkiller abuse has now become the number #1 cause of injury-related deaths among people aged 35-54.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs come from three classes:

  1. Opioids: prescribed to treat pain, highly addictive and commonly abused.  Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Methadone, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone and Methadone are among the opioid drugs that are fueling a national crisis.  Research suggests that addiction can occur within 12 weeks of use, creating strong cravings and a very difficult withdrawal.
  2. Central Nervous system (CNS) depressants: used to treat depression and anxiety.  Xanax, Valium, Librium and ProSom are sedatives and tranquilizers.  These benzodiazepine drugs are very addictive and frequently abused.  Like other addictive drugs, tolerance is built up in a person’s body, and they begin to exceed the recommended dose to obtain comparable relief.  Benzos have very strong withdrawal symptoms and require a long time to leave the body, resulting in strong cravings.
  3. Stimulants: prescribed to increase alertness, attention and energy, and often used to treat ADHD and depression.  Drugs such as Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta affect the chemicals in the brain, increasing heart rate, blood flow and respiration.  Addiction to these drugs is increasing among teenagers and college students, and the withdrawal process can be difficult.

Many people do not realize the danger of prescription drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor and are therefore thought to be safe.  However, a high risk of addiction exists, and changes in brain function can easily occur.  Addiction to prescription drugs is second only to alcohol in reasons why people seek help at our Pennsylvania drug rehab.

Painkiller Abuse – Sources of Supply

Graph image depicting sources of supply for painkillers and painkiller abuse
The national epidemic of painkiller abuse is being enabled by families and friends who do not always appreciate the dangers of drugs such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin and Methadone.  More than 15 million Americans have used prescription medications inappropriately. The fastest growing segment of addiction treatment are those seeking prescription drug rehab.