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What to Do When Your Drug Use Becomes Too Much

What to Do When Your Drug Use Becomes Too Much

• If you feel that you are taking too many prescriptions, seek professional consultation

Prescription drugs are more accessible than they ever have been before. By many terms, this is a positive development in the field of medical care. However, it is not without downsides. Increasing numbers of patients are becoming addicted to prescriptions every year, leading to addictions, accidental overdoses, and sometimes, to the use of illegal drugs.

Another complication with the availability of prescriptions is that a patient may feel over-prescribed. It may become difficult to manage a large number of prescription medications. Patients may need to manage high costs, undesirable side-effects and inconvenient dosage requirements. He or she might wish to simply eliminate or at least consolidate prescription consumption, feeling that his or her drug use has become just too much to handle continuously.

A person may wonder when it is appropriate to seek consultation regarding their misgivings about their drug use. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you feel that you are taking too many prescriptions, seek professional consultation.
  • If you feel that your prescription is no longer necessary, seek professional consultation.
  • If you are taking prescriptions other than as prescribed, seek medical help immediately.
  • If you are taking someone else’s prescriptions, seek medical help immediately.
  • If you are taking illegal substances, seek medical help immediately.

A person does not have to progress to the point of addiction to feel worrisome effects of prescription consumption levels. Many users understand that most prescriptions, especially painkillers, build tolerance over time. This means that the body gradually adapts to the drug and makes a higher dosage necessary to experience the same desired effect.

Essentially, if a patient starts taking a painkiller prescription, he or she will eventually have to take more prescription painkillers than they did when they started. It is very common to become physically dependent on these drugs. This does not always equate to addiction. The difference? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is identified by “an inability to stop using a drug; failure to meet work, social, or family obligations; and, sometimes (depending on the drug), tolerance and withdrawal.”1

When and How Drug Usage May be Reduced

In harmony with the definition listed above, some medical professionals will insist to a patient that they are not addicted, and urge that they continue with use as prescribed. A patient may have to be insistent with their concerns. With regard to prescription painkillers, it is good to keep in mind that many medications that are now prescribed by some doctors as first line treatment were once used to treat very serious conditions, such as end-of-life pain. Any doctor who is quick to re-prescribe and slow to listen to prescription concerns is not acting in harmony with modern medical knowledge or practicing good medical care standards.

If a patient is diagnosed with addiction after professional consultation, the doctor will help that person to formulate a plan of treatment. The physician may prescribe another drug, such as methadone or buprenorphine, in order to lessen the effects of withdrawal while helping the patient to reduce use of the problem drug. While some may see this as replacing one drug for another, doctors are usually to be trusted in these methods, and in time these too will be weaned. As an added element of treatment, the patient may also be encouraged to enter a self-help program or join a 12-Step addiction therapy group  to help him or her restore the social and mental balances of a pre-addiction lifestyle. It is also recommended that recovering addicts institute a health-appropriate routine of exercise during the recovery process. This can exert an extra positive effect, especially on patients who are participating in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.2

Personal Action and Professional Help – Break Free Today!

A person who is concerned about the amount of prescriptions that he or she is taking can be encouraged to form a list of all currently used prescriptions, medications and supplements. This is good to do from time to time anyway. This list can be presented to a health care physician for analysis. Perhaps, there are drugs that are combination-therapy for multiple disorders, such as heart conditions and diabetes. Sometimes, doctors find that the combination of multiple prescriptions with other supplements is actually hindering the intended therapeutic benefits.3 Sometimes, less is more!

Prevention is the best method of treatment. Be up front with every doctor when describing symptoms. Honestly reveal any drug abuse history, even illegal activity. Get all of your prescription questions and concerns addressed in the first visit. Never hold back for fear of asking too many questions. Write down what you are accepting as your prescription. And from time to time, analyze your prescriptions. If you feel that there are too many on your list, research to see if some of the medications handle the same problems, or if there are combination medications that can treat multiple ailments. Include supplements to the list and show it to your doctor.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “millions of people are living in long-term recovery.” Follow suggestions for living a healthy lifestyle, such as getting sufficient rest, good social interaction and moderate exercise – you too may happily find that reducing your drug use is more realistic for you than it seems!

If you would like to learn more, or if you are interested in learning more about substance recovery and wellness programs, please call us today.


1 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/there-difference-between-physical-dependence. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), “Is there a Difference Between Physical Dependence and Addiction?” Revised: December 2012; Retrieved: 12/16/15.

2 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/prescription-drugs-abuse-addiction/preventing-recognizing-prescription-drug-abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Prescription Drug Abuse, “Preventing and Recognizing Prescription Drug Abuse.” Revised: November 2014; Retrieved: 12/16/15.

3 http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/05/28/how-to-safely-reduce-the-medications-you-take. U.S. News, Health, “How to Safely Reduce the Medications You Take” by Michael Schroeder, Published: May 28, 2015; Retrieved: 12/16/15.

4 https://ncadd.org/about-addiction/drugs/prescription-drugs. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “Prescription Drugs.” Last modified June 28 2015, Retrieved 12/16/15.

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