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Prescription Drug Abuse in Mississippi

Prescription drug abuse has become one of the biggest health problems in America with a staggering 52 million people reporting having used prescription drugs for a non-medical reason at some point in their life. Prescription drug abuse is defined by a person taking medication for a non-medical reason or for longer than advised. Some people may also continue taking their medication even if their symptoms have improved. Prescription drug abuse in Mississippi is on the increase with people from all ages and backgrounds seeking treatment for addiction. Attempting to deal with an addiction to prescription pills alone can be dangerous as some drugs cause severe withdrawal symptoms that can be life threatening. Professional rehabilitation centers have years of experience with prescription drug abuse in Mississippi, and addiction specialists can help patients safely through the initial detox phase before providing intensive therapy and counseling to deal with cravings.

Why Is Prescription Drug Abuse So Common?

The rise in prescription drug addiction can be attributed to a number of different causes. Many doctors are now recklessly prescribing addictive medicines for conditions like anxiety and depression without first attempting other methods of treatment such as behavioral therapy or counseling. Other physicians may fail to properly monitor their patients’ drug use and do not realize that they are developing an addiction. Another reason is that many people mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are not as harmful as illegal drugs and that consuming them for several months or even years is relatively safe. However, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 44 people die from prescription drug overdose in America every single day, and prescription drugs are now responsible for more deaths than traffic accidents each year.

Prescription Drug Abuse in Mississippi

Prescription drug abuse in Mississippi is a serious problem with 90% of all overdose deaths being as a result of prescription drug abuse in 2012 according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. The vast majority of deaths were also considered to be accidental. A report by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy states that the majority of prescription drug overdose fatalities were white males under the age of 45. The number of drug overdose deaths in Mississippi has tripled since 1999, and the state currently has the 30th Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in the US according to The Trust For America’s Health.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

The most commonly abused prescription drugs fall into three distinct categories:

Opioids – Opioids are painkillers that interrupt messages sent between the nerves and the brain to reduce the amount of pain experienced. Opiates such as morphine and codeine are a type of opioid that are produced using opium harvested from the poppy plant. As well as providing relief from pain, opioids depress the central nervous system and can induce feelings of euphoria in the user. Common opioids include Fentanyl, methadone, oxycodone and Demerol.

Sedatives – Sedatives work by depressing the central nervous system and slowing down brain activity. Many people take sedatives for conditions such as anxiety and bipolar disorder as the drugs create a feeling of calm in the user. Barbiturates such as Amytal, Luminal and Mysoline were among the most common sedative drugs prescribed to those suffering from mood or panic disorders, but this class of sedatives has gradually been replaced by benzodiazepines. Xanax, Librium and Klonopin are common benzodiazepines.

Stimulants – Stimulants increase energy levels, alertness and bodily functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. Those with narcolepsy or ADHD may be prescribed stimulants as well as people with clinical depression. Examples of stimulants include Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta.

Most prescription drugs fall into the Schedule II category according to classification by the Drug Enforcement Agency meaning they have a high potential for abuse and are considered to be dangerous.

Warning Signs Someone May Be Abusing Prescription Drugs

The warning signs of prescription drug abuse will vary slightly depending on the substance used, but the vast majority of people abusing prescription drugs will exhibit the following signs:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory problems
  • Reduced appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations

Those that are addicted to prescription drugs may also start ‘doctor shopping’ by visiting many different physicians to obtain repeat prescriptions.


Why Are Prescription Drugs Addictive?

Prescription painkillers and antianxiety medications produce a feeling of euphoria and well-being in the user that many people find appealing. The pills trick the brain into releasing dopamine which leads to feelings of pleasure and happiness. However, over time the body adapts to the medication by reducing the amount of dopamine released and creating a tolerance. Users will then take more of the drug to feel a pleasant effect. Once the body becomes dependent on the drug, the user will start to experience severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit such as nausea, vomiting, muscle and bone pain, anxiety, depression, hallucinations and thoughts of suicide.


Potential Health Risks of Prescription Drug Abuse

Long-term abuse of prescription drugs can have serious consequences for a person’s mental and physical health. Many people report suffering from depression, anxiety, paranoia and violent or emotional outbursts. The vast majority of overdoses involving prescription medications are accidental, and overdose can lead to organ failure, brain damage and even death. Professional rehabilitation treatment that involves a medical detox is the safest method of overcoming prescription drug addiction. Addicts require 24-hour care from a team of addiction specialists while withdrawing from the drugs and several months of intensive therapy sessions. Unlike illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine, prescription drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms that last for weeks or even months. Many patients also report mental disorders such as anxiety or paranoia that persist for several years after stopping the medication. A comprehensive aftercare plan is also essential to help recovering addicts deal with cravings and learn how to live without the use of prescription medications.

If you or a member of your family is currently battling an addiction to prescription drugs, then professional addiction treatment offers the safest and most effective method of getting clean. Rehabilitation centers have years of experience with prescription drug abuse in Mississippi and can help patients overcome their dependency and avoid relapse.