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The Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs and Why They Are so Addictive

Hands of two people talking about the commonly abused prescription drugs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths in the United States involving opioids have more than tripled since 1999—which is why the U.S. is now experiencing an opioid epidemic. However, the country’s most commonly abused prescription drugs can be broken down into two main categories: opioids and benzodiazepines. These are also the most addictive prescription drugs, and both pose serious health risks when misused or abused.

If you or someone you love struggle with addiction to opioids or benzos, call 888.296.8976 to speak with someone from Northpoint Recovery about our prescription drug addiction treatment programs in Idaho.

About Prescription Opioids

The first thing to remember is that prescription opioid painkillers don’t actually “fix” or “cure” pain. They mask that pain by affecting signals in the brain. However, they can also produce euphoria, self-confidence, and freedom from worry and stress by that exact mechanism.

Common Prescription Opioid Painkillers

Several prescription opioid painkillers carry a high potential for abuse, such as the following:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine

Interestingly, opioid medicines were never intended to treat chronic pain long-term. Up until just a generation ago, prescription opioids were only given to treat immediate or acute pain over the short term. Recognizing this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed new guidelines recommending that doctors only dispense prescription opioids as a last resort, even then, at the lowest dosage and for the shortest duration possible.

How Opioid Addiction Develops

Over time, regular prescription opioid painkillers affect physical and chemical changes within the brain, in essence, “training” your brain that the opioids are necessary for normal functioning. In other words, the longer, stronger, and more frequent your opioid use is, the longer, stronger, and more frequently your brain will say your opioid use needs to be. That is the definition of “tolerance”—an ever-increasing need to use greater and greater amounts of the drug to achieve the same pleasurable effect.

About Prescription Benzos

Initially introduced in the 1960s, benzodiazepines have proven effective treatments for insomnia, anxiety disorders, and alcohol withdrawal. For vulnerable individuals, however, benzos carry a higher-than-normal abuse potential.

Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines

Because of the large number of disorders that they treat, benzodiazepines are popular among physicians, and that popularity is growing. More people are being exposed to higher dosages of medications that are considered to be highly addictive. This accounts for why benzodiazepines are among the most common prescription drugs abused recreationally. Commonly abused benzos include the following:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Klonopin

When a benzodiazepine medication has been taken over the long term or chronically abused, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe—including seizures that can be life-threatening. For this reason, benzodiazepines and alcohol are the only two abused substances that must permanently be discontinued under trained medical staff’s supervision.

How Benzo Addiction Develops

Other drugs of abuse are addictive because they precipitate dopamine surges in the reward areas of the brain, thereby “training” the person to continue using a particular substance. This is not precisely the case with benzodiazepines. These drugs achieve the same effect by “calming” inhibitory neurons that prevent excess dopamine production.

Why Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Is Necessary

In addition to being the most addictive prescription drugs, both opiates and benzodiazepines present a significant danger of fatal overdose, especially when combined with alcohol or each other. If you or someone you know potentially has a problem with prescription drugs—whether benzodiazepines, opiates, or some other medication—then it is imperative that you get the proper help and support immediately.

Northpoint Recovery can offer that assistance by providing evidence-based, multi-layered addiction recovery treatment that attacks the disease on physical, mental, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual levels. Northpoint Recovery’s experienced clinic staff can give you the tools to craft your future—one where serenity, sanity, and sobriety have been restored.

Find Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

Learn more about the most commonly abused prescription drugs—opioids and benzodiazepines—and why professional help is necessary to overcome addiction. Contact Northpoint Recovery at 888.296.8976 to get on the path to recovery today.