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Arkansas Prescription Drug Addiction
alcoholism and treatment

When used as intended, prescription drugs are invaluable in treating serious conditions and pose very little risk of causing addiction. The drugs that have potential for addiction tend to produce pleasant feelings of euphoria, confidence and sociability, however — feelings that may lead users to take them more often than they should. This is drug abuse, and while some people see it as harmless, when it is carried on for long enough it can turn into a full-blown addiction.

As the drugs are taken, the body gradually builds a tolerance to them, which promotes taking larger amounts. Eventually, this causes a physical dependence to develop. This process is individualized, and genetics play a major role in how susceptible someone is to addiction. But with long enough exposure to the drug, anyone can develop an addiction.

When an addiction has formed, the brain has essentially been re-wired to believe that the drug is as necessary for basic function as food and water. If it isn’t present almost constantly, the addict experiences severe withdrawal symptoms that can threaten their health and even their life. They will also experience overwhelming cravings that override everything else in their life, even family and financial responsibilities. Arkansas prescription drug addiction is a serious issue, but with professional assistance, addicts can overcome this complex diesease.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Stimulants

Stimulants are usually thought of as a class of illegal street drugs. But there are two commonly prescribed stimulants that are also commonly abused — Ritalin and Adderall.

These drugs are primarily prescribed for attention deficit disorder and for narcolepsy, and for those purposes they work wonders. But they are also types of amphetamines, and have similar qualities to other illicit amphetamines, such as a rush of euphoria and energy. They are also frequently abused by college students looking to gain a mental edge while studying or taking a test.

Sedatives

Sedatives are primarily prescribed to help keep anxiety under control and to treat insomnia. Two of the most commonly prescribed categories, barbiturates and benzodiazepines, are also potentially addictive. Some common prescription barbiturates are Seconal, Lumital and Amytal. Some common prescription benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium and Restyl.

This category of drugs is sometimes abused recreationally for the sense of calm they bring on, or to enhance the effects of alcohol (which is an extremely risky combination than can lead to death by overdose). They are also frequently used to self-medicate an anxiety disorder that is not being properly treated.

Opioids

While stimulants and sedatives present serious addiction problems and are not to be taken lightly, no category of drugs has been as big of a nationwide problem in the past decade as prescription opioids. There is widespread medical belief that these potent painkillers have been and continue to be overprescribed, leading to an outbreak of addictions that can transition into heroin addictions when the pills become too hard to get.

Derived from the opium poppy, these drugs have been medically invaluable in treating serious pain. But they were never meant to be used for more than a short period of time, and the feeling of euphoria they bring on has sucked many patients into using them outside the scope of their prescriptions. When they are abused for long enough, an opioid addiction develops. This is one of the strongest forms of addiction and one of the hardest to break.

Arkansas Prescription Drug Addiction Statistics

The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that opiate prescription drugs were the third most commonly abused substances in Arkansas (behind marijuana and meth). Sedative and prescription stimulant abuse were below the national average, but treatment cases are still regularly seen each year.

Overdose fatalities due to prescription opioids have become a serious problem in the state in recent years. Over 300 people die in the state due to a prescription drug overdose each year.

Arkansas prescription drug addiction and abuse appears to be starting early in life in the state. According to statistics collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Arkansas has the highest rate of prescription painkiller abuse by teenagers in the United States. About one in five high school students abuse prescription drugs by the time they reach their senior year. Youth in Arkansas are also abusing sedatives at a rate that is three times the national average.

Categories of Prescription Drugs

Since prescription drugs have established medical value, they are usually listed among the lower rungs of controlled substances. Most of the prescription opioids are listed as Schedule II controlled substances, given their established risk of abuse and addiction. The prescription stimulants are also found in this category.

The less potent opioids that come in lower standard doses are found in Schedules III and V, such as Tylenol with codeine. The prescription sedatives that are potentially addictive are listed in Schedule IV.

Health Risks of Prescription Drugs

The exact health risks vary between the different drug categories, but overdose is a threat for any type of prescription drug. Sedatives become very dangerous when mixed together or with alcohol. Opioids can easily be overdosed on all by themselves, leading to death by respiratory depression. And stimulants can cause an overdose death by heart failure.

Opioid pain pills present the greatest risk for long-term health complications. They can cause permanent brain damage, negative changes in behavior, chronic constipation, sexual dysfunction, liver or kidney damage and a compromised immune system. They also present the risk of switching to an even more dangerous heroin addiction when the addict is no longer able to afford pills or get prescriptions for them.

Treatment for Arkansas Prescription Drug Addiction

The first step in treatment for a prescription drug addiction is medical detox. This is a period of a few days to a week where the patient resides at a treatment facility while coming down off the drug and receiving medical treatment for their withdrawal symptoms. Not all treatment facilities offer medical detox, and those that don’t will likely refer the patient to a hospital to complete it before starting out in their program.

Arkansas prescription drug addictions are usually serious in nature and require an inpatient treatment stay of 30 to 120 days. This gives the patient a period of time in which to focus solely on their recovery. They are supported during this time by any mental health counseling they may need, substance abuse planning, life skills development, and peer support groups.

Care continues after inpatient treatment with ongoing counseling and support groups. Patients can also get assistance in transitioning to a clean and sober living environment if they so desire.

Whatever your needs may be, a licensed and certified addiction treatment center can provide the right help for you. The sooner you make the call to an addiction specialist, the sooner you can get your life back under control.