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What Makes Prescription Drugs So Addicting?

What Makes Prescription Drugs So Addicting?

Prescription drugs can be addicting

Many people mistakenly think that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs. People who received drug awareness classes in grade school may recall all of the anti-drug awareness information about street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines. But very few people have received much information about the very real dangers of prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs are as addictive as illegal street drugs, especially if they are abused or used without a doctor’s awareness or prescription. If you are concerned about your own drug use or the use of someone you love, the first step is to gain knowledge and awareness of the issue.

How Prescription Drugs Change Brain Chemistry

The human brain is literally a brilliant organ. It strives to create a balance. Even in people who experience depression, anxiety, or mental health conditions, the brain becomes accustomed to those normal patterns and tries to keep things steady, similar and familiar.

When a person introduces drugs or alcohol into his or her body, the brain immediately recognizes that something has been added. The brain then begins to work quickly to create a sense of stability. If a drug creates a calming effect, the brain will attempt to overcome that by producing more hormones to stay awake, a byproduct of which may be increased anxiety. If a drug creates a euphoria and pain-blocking sensations (like oxycodone or hydrocodone, for instance), the brain will slowly stop releasing calming hormones on its own, and rely more and more on the outside chemicals to do the job for it.

Once the brain makes these changes, the person may experience withdrawal sensations or anxiety, physical illness or mood swings when trying to quit the drug. These withdrawal sensations keep many people addicted for years on end.

The Difference between Physical and Psychological Addiction

A physical addiction occurs after a drug creates real brain changes that result in withdrawal sensations and discomfort once the drug is no longer present. A psychological addiction is a real issue, and a complicated issue to treat. Psychological addictions occur when a person feels emotionally dependent on a drug or activity. Some purely psychological addictions include gambling addiction, sex addiction, or shopping addiction. These psychological addictions also create a rush of hormones in the brain and can lead to more complicated addictions down the road.

Many prescription drugs create both a physical and a psychological addiction. That is why an integrated, comprehensive treatment program is the most effective way to treat prescription drug addiction in the long run.

Prescription Drug Addiction Help

We offer a toll-free, confidential addiction helpline to help you or someone you love learn more about treatment options and effects. We can help you discover your options about wellness, rehab, drug detox, family addiction counseling and more. We can even help you understand your insurance benefits or find a luxury, confidential rehab facility.

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