How to Not Get Addicted to Your Prescriptions

How to Not Get Addicted to Your Prescriptions

Becoming addicted to prescription drugs is a real danger for many people. Those with a personal and family history of drug addiction have a higher risk of addiction when they use habit-forming drugs. Understanding the difference between tolerance, dependence and addiction can help you determine whether or not you have a problem with prescription drugs.

What Is Drug Tolerance?

Drug tolerance means the body needs a more of substance to feel the same effects, and this problem can happen with any habit-forming drug. For example, people can become tolerant to over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen, meaning they will need higher doses to feel better. In such instances, doctors may recommend that patients switch painkillers, or that their patients quit using over-the-counter drugs. Also, people can become tolerant to seasonal allergy medicines, which means they must change products they normally use to get through hay fever or rag weed season. Tolerance to drugs does not necessarily mean you are becoming addicted, but that the drug has stopped working for you, and that you need to try another drug. When you use narcotic painkillers, tolerance can signal the beginning of a problem, since your brain may be getting used to euphoria the drug produces, as well as the resulting pain relief. To prevent tolerance from becoming a more serious problem, talk to your doctor as soon as you notice it.

What Is Drug Dependence?

Drug dependence may also occur when you use habit-forming prescription drugs. As with tolerance, dependence does not necessarily mean that an addiction is developing, but that your body is becoming used to the drug, so you may not feel normal unless you take it. One sign of dependence is having uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dose or stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may occur when you finish your prescription, especially if you have used the drug consistently for a long time. To avoid withdrawal symptoms, it may be best to taper off your drug rather than stopping use all at once. Talk to your doctor about how best to quit a medication that she has prescribed rather than trying to do it on your own.

How Drug Addiction Works

Drug addiction can be preceded by tolerance and dependence, but these two issues do not mean that addiction is the next step. Drug addicts may never develop drug tolerance or dependence, just as those who do develop tolerance and dependence may not become addicted. To be clear, addiction is characterized by a compulsive desire to continue a behavior in spite of the problems it causes. To avoid becoming addicted to your prescription drugs, talk honestly with your doctor about any personal or family history of drug abuse and addiction. Be aware of your risks, pay attention to any unusual drug-related behavior and recognize cravings for the drug to protect yourself from addiction.

Find Help for Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we can help you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak with our admissions coordinators about treatment options. With help you can recover.