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Grief and Prescription Drug Addiction

Grief and Prescription Drug AddictionEveryone handles grief differently. Some are able to work through their grief in healthy ways and begin to heal. However, others turn to prescription drug abuse to experience a short-lived sense of euphoria and wellbeing, which means they hide from the pain of grief through drug abuse. In doing so, these drug users only hurt themselves and their loved ones even more. To address these issues, patients should seek professional help to deal both with grief and resulting drug abuse.

The Relationship between Grief and Prescription Drugs

Grief and prescription drug abuse have a multifaceted relationship. For some, drug abuse is a response to grief, but for others emotional pain results from drug abuse. People who endure tragedy may be tempted to use drugs recreationally. A 2008 study by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) shows that one out of every four adolescents in the US experience at least one potentially traumatic event before the age of 16. Many of these young people have access to prescription drugs and use them to numb the pain associated with trauma and loss.

Here are some factors that influence the connection between grief and prescription drug abuse:

  • Sleep – Many people lose sleep while mourning a tragic event. While these individuals may not intend to abuse drugs, sleep aids are addictive. Grief can make people fragile or self-destructive, and immediate access to sleeping aids can present an unavoidable temptation.
  • Depression and anxiety – Some people overindulge in antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to treat their conditions. Failing to use these drugs according to a prescription is considered drug abuse and can result in addiction.
  • Chronic illness – Drug abuse may also start with a chronic illness. Any attempts to self-medicate these issues can ease both emotional and physical pain. Most people with chronic pain or illness have access to opioid pain relievers, which are highly addictive.
  • Medial conditions – Many people with substance abuse disorders also have mental health issues. For example, people with schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder may attempt to self-medicate their symptoms through use of prescription drugs.
  • PTSD – Posttraumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that results when people survive traumatic events such a sexual assault, domestic abuse, car accidents, war or any other scarring circumstances. The NCTSN 2008 study also states that up to 59% of young people with PTSD subsequently develop substance abuse problems.

These statistics mean that people who are grieving may struggle with drugs, so they should seek professional help to stay clean.

Help for Grief and Drug Addiction

If you have developed a drug addiction while working through grief, a professional treatment plan can help you heal from both problems at the same time. A personalized treatment plan that meets your physical and psychological needs can help you achieve lifelong recovery. Please call 24 hour, toll-free helpline to speak with an addiction counselor about your options.

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