Some people may not even be aware that they have become chemically dependent on one of these medications until they stop taking the medication and begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, as the need for substance detoxification grows.
Many people visit their doctor’s offices, urgent care centers and other types of medical facilities every so often.
While the health care one receives is professional, many physicians are not fluent with controlled substances and are completely unaware that they are addictive.
Physicians and nurse practitioners see many patients a day and are often overworked. When a patient complains of acute pain, often the easiest solution is to write a prescription for opioid pain medications.
According to Dr. Cidambi, many physicians do not have the expertise to get to the root of the pain or anxiety, as many are family practitioners and nurse practitioners who may not have received the training a pain specialist or psychiatrist receives. More than half of these prescriptions are written by primary care physicians or nurse practitioners.
Why some physicians unintentionally end up enabling an individual’s addiction to prescription medications?
Pain: When a patient complains of pain, only acute pain calls for the prescription of opioid medications – not a sprained ankle or menstruation cramps. They should talk to you about the risks involved with opioid medication and balance it against the benefits.
If opioid pain pills are prescribed for more than three months, the patient needs a substance abuse evaluation in order to ensure that they are not becoming chemically dependent.
The best strategy is to move the patient as quickly as possible to non-addictive pain medications and introduce the patient to alternate methods of mitigating pain, such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture or massage.
Anxiety: Benzodiazepines are often used to treat people with anxiety, but long-term use should not be the treatment plan.
Many individuals who are prescribed benzodiazepines for genuine mental health issues end up becoming chemically dependent on these medications. After the acute phase of treatment is concluded, there are alternate treatments that are equally effective over the long run.
ADHD: It is not uncommon for physicians to prescribe highly addictive medications, known as stimulants, to address Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Adderall and Ritalin are two very common drugs used to treat ADHD and are often abused.
If the medications have been used for a considerable amount of time and are affecting the quality of life of a loved one, consider switching to alternative treatment modalities.
Often, people using these types of medications don’t start out as addicts. They begin to experience alleviation of symptoms of acute pain or anxiety, but they may find going through the day or functioning at normal levels difficult without these medications.
What helps with the withdrawal?
Quitting cold turkey may be very difficult when chemical dependence has set in. It may also be dangerous to quit some of these medications suddenly, as it may lead to medical complications such as seizure or stroke.
If you need more information about addiction to prescription medications or have questions regarding chemical dependency and prescription medications, please contact us at the earliest.
Dr. Cidambi is a leader in addiction treatment and innovator of safe and effective ambulatory (outpatient) detoxification level of care for alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, and suboxone. Prior to founding the Center for Network Therapy, she completed her residency in Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and an Addiction Medicine Fellowship at NYU/Bellevue Hospital in New York. Due to the successful detoxification program, Dr. Cidambi was featured frequently by media outlets, including NPR, CBS, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal.