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Prescription Drug Abuse in Hawaii

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

There are a number of prescription drugs that are incredibly useful for managing pain or disruptive psychological symptoms, yet they are also potentially addictive. When doctors prescribe them, they carefully balance the amount of pills prescribed and the dosage to keep the risk of addiction reasonably low. However, since some of these drugs have euphoric and intoxicating effects, some people will take more of them than they should.

When people go off of their prescriptions and start taking an excess of these drugs to feel good, it is considered to be drug abuse. At this point, an addiction has not necessarily formed, but with enough continued exposure one will at some point. When an addiction forms, the person develops a physical need and craving for the drug that they have little control over. At this point, medical treatment is necessary to get them off of it.

 

Statistics on Prescription Drug Abuse in Hawaii

Stimulant abuse is the leading prescription drug problem in Hawaii, according to treatment statistics collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Stimulants are sometimes prescribed for cases of extreme obesity or narcolepsy, but they are more commonly prescribed to school-aged kids and teenagers who have an attention deficit disorder. They can be abused for recreational effects, however, and this is a significant problem among youth in Hawaii.

Among adults, however, the most quickly rising trend is abuse of opiate pain pills. This is a problem that is growing rapidly nationwide, not just in Hawaii. At the moment, abuse of pain pills exceeds abuse of heroin in the state. But these numbers may shift if these pain pill abusers lose their ability to get prescriptions, or simply find a much more affordable source of heroin.

Opioid pain reliever overdose deaths accounted for about 36 percent of all drug overdose deaths in Hawaii between 2009 and 2013. This number has had ups and downs, but overall has steadily increased since 1999. Overall, drug overdose deaths lag slightly behind poisonings in terms of accidental deaths in Hawaii, but they are the second-leading cause of these deaths in the state.

 

What Types of Prescription Drugs Can Be Abused?

As mentioned previously, opiate pain pills are commonly abused. These powerful pain relievers are derived from the opium poppy plant, which has a long history as an addictive drug. The pain pills made from this drug are considered safe to use, and have very low rates of addiction when they are used in accordance with the orders of a doctor and used only for short-term pain relief. The trouble with them is that people enjoy their potent euphoric and anti-anxiety effects, and use them in larger amounts and for longer periods of time than they should.

The most famous and most commonly prescribed opiate painkiller is OxyContin. Other members of this pain pill family are Vicodin, Demerol, Fentora and Lorcet among other brand names. Codeine is also a type of opiate pain reliever.

While people usually first think of methamphetamine and cocaine when stimulant abuse is brought up, drugs like Ritalin and Adderall also contain amphetamines and can be abused. They can be abused recreationally, although some college students abuse them to get a mental edge when taking tests or studying.

The final group of prescription drugs that are commonly abused are sedatives. While there are many safe forms of sedatives, there are two commonly prescribed types that can potentially be addictive. These are benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Some common brand names of these types of sedatives include Xanax, Valium, Seconal and Luminal.

 

How Can You Tell if Someone is Abusing Their Prescription Drugs?

The signs of drug abuse vary somewhat with each different type of drug, but there are some common signs that you can look for. The biggest red flag is “doctor shopping,” or the patient going to see an unusual amount of different physicians in an attempt to secure multiple prescriptions. If they seem to habitually “lose” their prescriptions as an excuse to keep going to the doctor, they are likely attempting to secure more pills to feed a habit. Those who have developed an addiction will also usually socially isolate themselves, have unusual sleep patterns and be prone to serious mood swings.

 

What is the Drug Schedule?

The federal drug schedule is basically the chart that tells you how illegal a drug is. The drugs listed on this chart are all intoxicating and have strong evidence that they can cause an addiction. The higher up the chart a drug is, the more dangerous the government regards it as and the harsher the penalties are for trafficking in it.

This schedule includes both illegal street drugs and prescription drugs. The prescription drugs tend to be lower down the chart, since they have legitimate medical use. However, that doesn’t mean that they do not present a serious risk of addiction. The strongest opiate pain medications, or those in Schedule II, are nearly as addictive as street heroin.

 

Health Problems Caused By Prescription Drug Abuse

Even a short-term period of abuse of prescription drugs can trigger seizures, anxiety, paranoia, insomnia and a rise in blood pressure. These drugs can also interrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, the biggest danger of short-term abuse of any drug is overdose. Opioid pain pills can easily cause death by overdose due to respiratory depression, either on their own or by combination with alcohol or depressants.

In the long term, these drugs can cause a variety of diseases. Sedatives can induce chronic insomnia and impair memory. Opiates increase the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. And prescription stimulants can cause symptoms that are very similar to those of paranoid schizophrenia.

 

How Treatment Works

Treatment for a prescription pill addiction starts with medical detox, a period of a few days in which you stay in a medical environment and get treatment to nurse you through the roughest patch of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. With things a little more under control, you move on to a period of inpatient treatment that generally lasts at least 30 days. This takes place in a certified and licensed treatment center that provides the perfect distraction-free environment for recovery. Equipped with the skills learned here, you can successfully manage your addiction and stay clean for life.

You don’t have to struggle alone. Call a New Hampshire treatment center today and take your life back from addiction.