Should I be afraid doctors won’t treat me if I admit to having a prescription drug addiction? The answer to this question is absolutely not. In fact, there are doctors who specialize in this kind of exact situation. All doctors deal with prescription addiction all the time. It’s part of their job to supervise the use of addictive medications and to recognize the signs of addiction before the situation escalates out of control.
That’s why certain drugs are only available by prescription in the first place. If you become addicted to a prescribed drug, begin to show signs of drug-seeking behavior and your doctor continues to prescribe the medication without confronting you about it, it’s more your doctor’s fault than yours.
Commonly Prescribed Addictive Drugs The major classes of addictive drugs commonly prescribed include:
Opioids are prescribed to relieve pain. They do this very well, but they also cause changes in brain and body function that can lead to addiction in some people. Opioids cause pleasant feelings of warmth and a floating kind of dreamy state, called a nod, in some users but certainly not all. Opioids can also cause profound euphoria in some people but again, not all. Some people actually experience dysphoria, the opposite of euphoria, and they may vomit and feel generally terrible. Benzodiazepines are drugs in the Valium family.
They are used as tranquilizers and sleep aids. All are addictive, especially when patients take more than is prescribed. Some people feel a sense of euphoria from these drugs, while others just feel sleepy. Once someone is addicted, they will need medical help to withdraw from benzodiazepines because the withdrawal syndrome can cause life-threatening grand mal seizures. This is in contrast to opioid withdrawal. Although it’s highly unpleasant and painful, withdrawal from opioids is generally not physically dangerous. Amphetamines and similar drugs like methylphenidate have a much more limited use than either opioids or benzodiazepines, but they are still widely prescribed for attention-deficit disorders and certain more rare brain diseases like narcolepsy. Amphetamines were once commonly used for weight loss. However, doctors cannot legally prescribe them for this purpose today. Barbiturates are strong sedative drugs once widely used as sleep aids and tranquilizers. The effect of this drug class is mostly determined by dose.
Barbiturates have a very narrow therapeutic safety margin. This means that the difference between the dose used to treat symptoms and the fatal dose is relatively small. This class of drugs also produces a powerful physical dependency withdrawal syndrome that can be fatal. Barbiturate overdose is notoriously difficult to manage and was once often fatal in spite of medical treatment. For these and other reasons, barbiturates today have been largely replaced by benzodiazepines and are prescribed only in very limited circumstances. Signs of Addiction Not everyone who takes a potentially addictive drug will become addicted to it. Addiction is a highly complex process involving the brain, the body, genetics, environment and other factors not yet well understood.
It’s not yet known exactly why one person will become addicted and another won’t, even when both are taking the same dose of the same drug. If you’re taking a potentially addictive drug, you can watch for certain signs:
- Feeling the need for the drug all the time
- Withdrawing from friends, family and hobbies
- Being preoccupied with the substance
- Poor performance at work or school
- Taking more of the drug on your own
- Thinking of excuses to get early refills
- Feeling sick or desperate when you run out
Your doctor should be watching for these signs as well. If you have concerns about addiction, whether you have these signs or not, discuss them with your doctor. Some people don’t want to do this because they are afraid their doctor will think less of them or refuse to prescribe the drug again or both. Although these things could happen, if they do, it’s your doctor’s failure to understand the actual problem. It’s not your fault. No one should be labeled as an addict. If you have a legitimate medical problem that is best managed with an addictive drug, it’s your doctor’s job to figure out how to do that safely.
There are always alternatives. If the issue is pain, doctors who specialize in pain management are very familiar with treating this kind of problem. Call us for Help Call us at 844-639-8371. We can help you with any addiction concerns you may have. We’re professional, knowledgeable drug counselors available 24 hours a day. Please call. We can help.