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Washington Prescription Drug Addiction

If you are living with an addiction to prescription drugs, help is attainable. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 8 million Americans have an addiction to non-medical prescriptions, such as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people choose to get the treatment they need to overcome addiction. With prescription drug addiction in Washington on the rise (Centers of Disease Control), there is no better time to work towards recovery. Learn how you can get started below.

What Are Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are medically prescribed to treat certain conditions. Unfortunately, some people get addicted to their own prescription, while others obtain the drugs through illegal methods. The most addictive prescriptions tend to be categorized as schedule II drugs, which are known for having a high potential for addiction. Such drugs include hydrocodone, Adderall (amphetamine), and morphine. Schedule II drugs are used minimally and only when medically necessary. However, addicts can obtain them on the streets, which significantly increases their risk for complications. According to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, there are more deaths annually caused by prescription drugs than popular street drugs combined. There are three main categories of prescription substances that are most commonly abused. They consist of the following:

Opioids: Opioids are narcotic pain relievers that are derived from opium, an ancient substance that has been used medicinally and recreationally for many years. Common opioids include morphine, hydrocodone, and OxyContin. This category of prescription substances temporarily relieves pain by interacting with nerve receptors. They can produce feelings of euphoria, followed by excessive sleepiness, confusion, and bodily pain.

Sedatives: Sedatives are used to slow down brain activity and are typically prescribed for anxiety disorders and sleep disorders such as insomnia. Sedatives induce sleepiness and can slow down heart rate and breathing. Common prescriptions include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. When abused, these medications can leave users feeling confused, paranoid, and excessively tired.

Stimulants: Stimulants have the opposite effect on the brain as sedatives. This category of prescriptions is used to increase brain activity. They are used to enhance focus and are especially useful in the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Common stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, and other amphetamine-based substances. Stimulant abuse can cause rapid heart rate, insomnia, and paranoia or high anxiety.

What Are the Signs of Abuse?

Prescription drug addiction in Washington can be difficult to identify. The following signs may serve as red flags to the presence of a serious problem:

∙         Unexplained prescription bottles in possession

∙         Inability to make eye contact

∙         Excessive anxiety or paranoia

∙         Sleeping problems

∙         Rapid changes in weight

∙         Isolation from loved ones

∙         Rapid mood swings

∙         Small baggies used to store pills

∙         Red eyes or dilated pupils


If you notice any of these signs, reach out for help immediately. The sooner you take action, the lower your risk will be of developing serious consequences.

What Are the Risks Associated with Prescription Drugs?

Many people assume that prescription substances are safer to abuse than street drugs. However, this could not be further from the truth. Prescription medications account for more deaths in the state of Washington than all other drugs combined. This is because it is easy to overdose on prescription substances. Some of the most common risks associated with this addiction include the following:

∙         Memory problems

∙         Brain damage

∙         Heart disease

∙         Seizures

∙         Loss of motor skills

∙         Depression

∙         Anxiety disorders

Besides health risks, abusing prescriptions can also make you more vulnerable to accidents and lead to legal difficulties.

What is Withdrawal?

Abusing a substance such as a medication builds a tolerance in the body, which eventually leads to addiction. When this addiction is not fed, withdrawal symptoms set in. These can vary in severity levels, but generally are uncomfortable enough to cause many people to relapse. This is why it is critical to prepare for withdrawal with professional help. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms include the following:

∙         Excessive sleepiness or insomnia

∙         Depression

∙         Mood swings

∙         High aggression

∙         Irritability

∙         Bodily pain

∙         Digestive pain or difficulty

∙         Changes in heart rate

∙         Shallow breathing

∙         Fluctuating body temperature

Medical detoxification clinics are available to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms and break your body’s physical dependency to substances. During detox, your body will slowly release the harmful toxins that have built-up over the course of your addiction. You will also have access to medical staff that is available to help you feel as comfortable as possible during this time. The supervision provided during detox is critical to avoiding relapse and moving on to the next phase of treatment – rehabilitation. Fortunately, many treatment centers offer on-site medical detox, which eliminates the gap between services and makes the transition easier.

What Kind of Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction in Washington is Available?


The only research-based treatment available for the treatment of drug addiction is rehabilitation, which is available in two formats. Inpatient treatment, also known as residential rehab, is the leading option and maintains the highest success rates. Some of the features of inpatient treatment include:

∙         On-site residency

∙         24/7 access to support and staff

∙         Ability to socialize in a healthy environment

∙         Structured daily routine

∙         Intensive therapies

∙         Community activities and more

Not everyone can commit to the strict guidelines and residential requirements of inpatient rehabilitation. In cases such as these, outpatient treatment may be a more effective option. This type of care operates during the daytime hours only, which allows patients to maintain their responsibilities at-home or in the community. This format of rehabilitation is not ideal for everyone though. It requires strong internal motivation for maintaining sobriety and a strong support system in order to be most effective. Since it does not offer 24/7 supervision, relapse can be an issue. Outpatient care encourages patients to participate in community-based programs such as support groups and recovery meetings to counteract this. Some people also use outpatient treatment as a stepping-stone from inpatient care. When used in this way, it better prepares individuals for independent living.

If you are struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, help is attainable. Pick up the phone and speak with an addiction specialist when you are serious about your sobriety.