Involuntary Addiction to Prescribed Drugs
Involuntary addiction is the process and result of a person becoming addicted to legitimately prescribed drugs given for medical reasons.
The drugs that are normally found in this category include opiates tranquillisers and anti-depressants.Many people become angry at finding they have become addicted and blame their healthcare provider, pharmacist or the manufacturing pharmaceutical company for their illness, and legal action against these groups is growing in popularity.
What Happens?If a person is prescribed a potentially addictive substance long-term for disorders such as depression, anxiety or for pain relief, they are usually given a medication that will help to alleviate these symptoms. If these drugs are taken correctly, the chances of becoming addicted are slim, however, there are some people who develop an addiction and do not find this out until the treatment is withdrawn or the person tries to take themselves off it.
If this happens, symptoms of withdrawal can develop which can be quite severe and can range from nausea and vomiting, to cold sweats, restlessness and anxiety, which is often what the drug was prescribed for in the first instance.
If the person is denied their prescription, they may try to find other ways of obtaining the drug, either illegally or from a supplier who cannot guarantee the purity of the drug which may be mixed with many other dangerous products. The effects of these can vary greatly due to the mixed product.
The chance of becoming addicted is greatly increased if the medication is taken too frequently or the dose is increased without medical supervision; this is common as people become tolerant to the drug or enjoy their effects. Occasionally the user will need to change their route of administration to enjoy the maximum effects of the substance.
Symptoms of withdrawal can occur several months after the medication has been ceased as it can take this long for some substances to fully leave the body’s system.
Treatment for Involuntary AddictionAs with many other addictions, often a period of withdrawal will be experienced, with the effects already mentioned. Often if the person is honest with their doctor and admits that they are taking too many or have changed the route of administration the doctor will help the person wean off slowly by gradually reducing the dose. This is the approved practice for the discontinuation of many prescriptions anyway and is a legitimate treatment plan.
Finding a supportive network is useful for discussing fears and objections, along with finding ways of managing cravings and long-term effects of withdrawal. This support may be found in support groups, help lines, online sources or with the use of a counsellor or psychotherapist.
Alternative therapies may help to alleviate stress and anxiety and help promote a regular sleeping pattern, therapies such as aromatherapy and massage can be particularly useful for this.
Due to the nature of this addiction, anger management is often needed to help cope with the feelings of animosity aimed at proportioning blame for the addiction.
If you have a history of prescription drug addiction, involuntary or not, it is vital that you share your experiences with your doctor. This will help to prevent these drugs being prescribed in the future with alternatives being sought, and will also highlight the incidence to your GP who may be unaware of this happening in their practice and they may well audit the incidence and try to formulate a prevention or early detection scheme.
As this type of addiction is quite common, governments and healthcare providers are trying to develop ways to prevent this occurring in the first instance, sop accurate figures are essential to determine the scale of the problem.