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Colorado Prescription Drug Addiction
is alcoholism a disease or an addiction

Colorado Prescription Drug Addiction

People believe that prescription drug abuse is safer than street drug abuse, but it can be equally as dangerous. In fact, Colorado prescription drug addiction even outpaced cocaine abuse in 2013. Granted, there are inroads being made in reformulation of prescription drugs to make them less addictive and to restrict their access, but they are still a popular method of getting high. Prescription drug abuse can occur innocently when someone takes the medication for a long period of time and becomes hooked. Other times, the drugs are sold on the street market just for the effects they produce, especially when taken in other ways than prescribed (like snorting or injecting them).

Types of Drugs

Colorado prescription drug addiction can occur with several different types of drugs: stimulants, opiates, and sedatives.

Stimulants – Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder in children. Since it has a medical use it is on Schedule II, even though it is highly addictive. It is classified as a stimulant, useful for helping people concentrate or to get people out of depression, but it can be abused and often is. In high doses, drugs like Ritalin (another stimulant) will act on the brain to release dopamine and this produces a pleasurable sensation, even similar to cocaine. However, high doses can also create the conditions for a heart attack or stroke. Thus, while people think the medicine is a “safe” way to get high, it is far from it. It should never be taken without a doctor’s prescription and in any other way than the doctor prescribes.

Opiates – Morphine is a natural opiate, a type of painkiller that can give one euphoria. It is made from Asian poppies. However, opioids are also available as synthetic forms of opiates and are regularly prescribed to manage pain either before, during, or after surgery or for other medical issues. For instance, Codeine is an opioid that is readily available via prescription in a cough syrup. The most popular prescription opioids that are abused right now are Vicodin and OxyContin. People think they are safe to use because they are on Schedule II and have a medical purpose, but need to be regulated. However, they can be quite addictive and also have dangerous side effects when taken in large dosages. They can depress the respiratory system, leading to coma and death.

Sedatives – Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, are on Schedule IV for their ability to help people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and are said not to have as high a probability of abuse relative to other drugs in Schedule I or II. Other types of sedatives, like Ambien are non-benzodiazepines and are also listed on Schedule IV. They are used to help people sleep at night when they have insomnia. They work by depressing the system enough to relax people and help them fall asleep. That’s why people call them “downers”. A prescription drug that helps people sleep and is on Schedule IV may seem like one of the most benign drugs out there, but it can come with very serious side effects. If not taken properly, it can lead to Colorado prescription drug addiction that ends up in a life-threatening seizure.


Schedule I, Schedule II, and Schedule IV Drugs

Schedule I drugs are drugs that have no medical use and have a high probability of being abused. These are drugs like heroin and LSD, even marijuana. As long as they are not seen to have any medical use, they land in Schedule I. When a drug has a medical use, like codeine, but it can still be abused for its drug effects, it is put on Schedule II. Some drugs start out in other schedules and get moved up, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, because people began to abuse them. Drugs on Schedule IV have a medical use and have a low probability of being abused. It doesn’t mean they aren’t being abused and that later on they might move up on the schedule, but when they were first classified they landed in Schedule IV.

Treatment Options for Colorado Prescription Drug Addiction

Unfortunately, even though a drug is on Schedule IV it doesn’t mean that it can’t be highly addictive. It just means it is not being as widely abused as other drugs. Thus, even the sedatives listed in Schedule IV can require medical intervention when someone becomes hooked on them. They will need to be treated with a medication to stop seizures, like neurontin, so that someone can get off the drugs safely. Opiates, in particular, can become really difficult for abusers to quit on their own. They will experience intense craving, although new formulations of Vicodin and OxyContin have reduced the craving aspect by reducing some of the pleasurable effects of the drug. That’s why people who have experienced Colorado prescription drug addiction often turn to street drugs, like heroin, in an effort to get that high they once got from prescription opioids. If they don’t get help early, they run the risk of overdosing, and that can be deadly. If they try to get clean on their own, they also risk triggering deadly withdrawal symptoms. The medicines may be prescribed by a doctor, but they are no less dangerous than street drugs when abused. Don’t let yourself be lulled into thinking that because they are prescribed to millions of patients and you are under a doctor’s care, that it can’t become a dangerous habit that is very hard to quit on your own.

Get Help

If you notice that someone you know who is on prescription drugs has lost control over when and how much they’re taking, it may be they are developing a Colorado prescription drug addiction. Help them to find treatment early so that they can understand the dangers of Colorado prescription drug addiction and the need for medical supervision to get off the drugs as safely as possible.