Concerned friends and family members have often asked me what they can do about an addiction to prescription medications. What is the best course of action for a person who may not be a “real” drug addict, but seems to have become dependent on prescription drugs nonetheless?
Well first of all, just because you are not a junkie lying in the gutter with a needle sticking out of your arm does not necessarily mean that you cannot be a drug addict. Addict’s come in all shapes and sizes, and even someone who is addicted to a six pack of beer every day is technically a drug addict. Don’t get too wrapped up in the definitions here and don’t let yourself be swayed by some image that you have in your head of what a “hard core addict” really is. Prominent figures, professionals, doctors, lawyers, judges–any of these people can get addicted to prescription painkillers without even believing that they are susceptible to such a thing.
Sometimes it just happens. Addiction is like that.
So you have to deal with it. And how can you best deal with it? Here are a few suggestions, especially if the problem is prescription medications:
* Talk with the doctor. This is really where the discussion should start, because it is typically the doctor that is prescribing all of the addictive medicine. Now understand that you very well might have a doctor who knows nothing about addiction. This is very possible and is more common than you think. Most doctors do not really understand the potential for addiction out there.
Nevertheless, you should try to convince your doctor that you are struggling with addiction and that you need alternative medications that are not addictive or habit forming. If the doctor is knowledgeable about addiction then he will definitely switch you over to medications that are not habit forming. Yes, there are always alternatives.
If your doctor refuses to listen to this plea, switch doctors. Find one who knows about addiction. Simple as that. Yes, this requires some leg work on your part. The freedom will be worth it though.
* If you find that you cannot talk your doctor out of the addictive medications, or that you don’t really want to talk him out of it, then you might need more professional help. At this point you might consider going to a drug rehab or addiction treatment facility to get properly detoxed from the medication.
Going through detox will clean your system out from all opiates and other addictive drugs. You will go through physical withdrawal and experience cravings, but they will not be so bad that you cannot get through it, especially with the help of the medical staff in the detox unit. Typically, medications are given that mitigate the effects of withdrawal, and so even though you may experience some discomfort, it is nothing that you cannot get through.
Personally, I have worked in a drug detox center for over five years now, and I have never witnessed someone who could not take the physical discomfort to the point where they walked out and used their drug of choice. In every case, the medical staff was able to keep the patient reasonably comfortable.
Therefore, if you are struggling with an addiction to prescription medication, then consider getting some professional help from an inpatient facility. There is no shame in doing so, and the help that you receive there will allow you to start a new life, without having to be dependent on chemicals. If you have tried to quit on your own and were not successful at doing so, consider treatment.