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Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction In Iowa


Iowa has put in place over 50 prescription drug take-back collection sites for Iowans to dispose of unused household prescriptions. This is just one measure Iowans have taken to counteract prescription drug addiction in Iowa, according to the 2016 Iowa Drug Control Strategy report. Over 30 tons of unused prescription medications were taken back in a period of five years. These are medications that might have otherwise ended up in the hands of a drug addict or street seller. In addition, to combat prescription drug addiction in Iowa, they put in a prescription monitoring program to help reduce the incidents of “doctor shopping” for those suffering from prescription drug addiction in Iowa. The majority of prescription drugs being abused in Iowa are painkillers (hydrocodone and oxycodone combinations like Percocet). Unfortunately, they are opioids that can cause people to shift to heroin when their prescription becomes more difficult to obtain legally. In fact, the Des Moines Register claims that the rise in heroin addiction in Iowa is directly related to the crackdown on prescription drug addiction in Iowa. However, as far as prescription drugs go, there are only three classes: opioids, sedatives and stimulants.



Why Painkillers Are So Popular


Painkillers and heroin are both opioids, a class of prescription drugs that provide a numbing effect with a euphoric glow afterwards. They are a Schedule II drug and have become more heavily regulated in recent years due to their continuing popularity to be sold as street drugs too. They are sold under brand names like Vicodin and OxyContin. Like any opiate, they are known to depress the breathing and can end up causing respiratory problems that lead to coma or death. Their similarity to heroin is also fueling the rise in heroin addiction, as some speculate that the cost of heroin is so much lower that people start with a prescription drug addiction in Iowa and end up with a full-blown heroin addiction later.



Sedatives Can Also Be Abused


The second class of prescription drugs abused in Iowa are sedatives. These can be anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax or sleep drugs like Ambien. Xanax can produce long-term effects like memory loss, muscle control problems, vomiting, and sight problems like double vision. Ambien can produce sleep disorders too. People can experience seizures upon withdrawal and even become depressed or suicidal. Currently, sedatives are on Schedule IV, but they may end up being upgraded if they continue to show an increase of abuse in the general population.



Stimulants Can Be Abused Too


Lastly, stimulants like Ritalin for ADHD are prescribed to children so many people think they’re benign stimulants. However, they are very similar to amphetamines. They give you a lot of energy and can affect the cardiovascular system. People can get a heart attack or stroke on them. They release dopamine into a person’s system that can be very addictive. Some people even think that Adderall is similar to crack/cocaine for the pleasant effects it has on the body.



Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction in Iowa


What type of treatment you need depends on the category of prescription drug being abused. For example, a stimulant requires different detox options than a sedative.


Opioids may require a course of methadone to help people wean themselves off the drug. The dosage is slowly tapered off. Naloxone is used when an overdose is eminent, but Suboxone can also be used for long-term treatment. A medical detox is necessary for anyone who is addicted to an opioid so as to avoid intense and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Aside from treating prescription addiction in Iowa, more regulatory measures to make prescription drug formulations less addictive has also made a large impact on the fight against prescription opioid addiction. Iowa still has a long way to go to continue fight opioid addiction, but it is on the right path.


The withdrawal from sedatives can leave one depressed, even suicidal. Thus, a course of anti-depressants are prescribed and a patient needs to be monitored to make sure they do not harm themselves during detox and withdrawal. Other types of medications, like anti-seizure pharmaceuticals, might also be necessary. If the person was taking a sedative to self-medicate some underlying symptom, like anxiety, then it will return once they detox and that will also need to be addressed medically. The detox should be done by slowly tapering a patient off their meds and they should be monitored at all times.


To get off stimulants “cold turkey” can actually induce panic attacks. So, a person who is addicted to a stimulant also needs to be slowly tapered off the medication. There is no medical detox course for Adderall or Ritalin, so it will be a matter of managing symptoms and tapering off the medication. They may need anti-seizure medication and/or anti-depressants. By monitoring a patient during detox, a doctor can keep tabs on what is needed and how much.



Prescription Drugs are Hard Drugs


The problem with prescription drug addiction in Iowa or anywhere else is the false idea that prescription drugs are “safe” drugs to abuse. That they aren’t hard drugs, like street drugs. This might be further exacerbated by outdated categorizing of some drugs on Schedule IV, where they have little risk of being abused, like sedatives. Yet, they do come with serious side effects and should never be abused. They cannot be quit “cold turkey” in many cases and are highly addictive. By the time a person figures out that they are a drug addict, even with a prescription drug, it will be too late to try to quit on their own. They will need help.


It may be up to the family of the person who is suffering an addiction to help them get into rehab. If that’s the case, it’s important to locate local resources for substance abuse programs that have experience with prescription drug addiction in Iowa. They can guide you on how to best get off these substances in a safe manner, before they end up being a heroin addict or something worse happens. Get in touch with your local addiction treatment program today.