Author: Justin Mckibben
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can understand the desire to find something that can help protect yourself from haunting feelings of dread that cripple your peace of mind. Anxiety is a complicated condition that can creep in from the most unexpected places, and people experience it in many different ways. While some may think it’s based in fear or weakness, the reality is far more complex. Those people may say all you need to overcome anxiety is a more grounded and positive outlook. But the truth for most people with an anxiety disorder is that battling anxiety goes a lot deeper than promoting optimism. Especially when your condition convinces you that all levity is just you lying to yourself. Sometimes, you need a little outside help, and anti-anxiety drugs can be very useful when a physician and an individual decide on the right route to take.
However, anti-anxiety medications can also be dangerous. These anti-anxiety drugs may not be in the spotlight the way opioids are, they are commonly abused, extremely addictive and can be just as lethal.
With recent reports showing a rise in deaths associated with anti-anxiety medications, some experts are saying there is a hidden epidemic being overshadowed by the opioid crisis.
Anti-Anxiety Drugs Underestimated
It is true that opioids are doing massive damage all across the country, but that doesn’t mean the death rates due to anti-anxiety drugs should be ignored. While focusing on prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids is important, we should also keep in mind the other dangerous medications out there.
The usual suspects are benzodiazepines, which include drugs like:
While these anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in helping some people, they still carry their risks, which can be devastating and even lethal.
According to the director of the Scripps Mercy Hospital emergency department Dr. Roneet Lev, benzodiazepines are responsible for more drug deaths in San Diego County than people may expect. She says,
“That comes from people who come into our trauma center from car accidents because they’re on benzodiazepines, people who come in because they’re falling down because that affects their balance and coordination on benzodiazepines,”
“We’ve seen terrible withdrawals, when they’re used to having it, with seizures, that end up in the ICU.”
And it isn’t just people who are buying these drugs off the street. Concerning drug-related deaths by legal prescriptions, benzodiazepines are not as far behind opioids as people may think. Dr. Lev adds that while oxycodone is the number one prescribed drug associated with death, hydrocodone is second, and benzodiazepine is in third place.
But San Diego County is definitely not the only area experiencing a surge in benzodiazepine-related deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), deaths involving these anti-anxiety drugs have more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2015.
Something that does make these medications even more treacherous is when they are mixed with opioids.
Mixing Meds Causing More Deaths
As if opioids or anti-anxiety drugs weren’t hazardous enough on their own, the fact that many people mix these two medications makes them even more deadly. The San Diego County Medical Examiner has concluded that 83% of benzodiazepine-related deaths also involved opioids. Nathan Painter is an associate professor in pharmacy at UC San Diego. He explains how the chemicals interact with the body, and how mixing them only amplifies these effects.
“The benzodiazepines themselves can cause respiratory depression, or your breathing slow down, and so can opioids. So when you combine them, especially in the case of not using them on a regular basis, or being new to the benzo or the opioid, if you give too much, or combine it with other things like alcohol or other medications, then it can cause that breathing to slow down, or even stop.”
What could make this even worse? Well, many of the people mixing these medications may have just been following instructions as prescribed by their doctor. Painter notes that sometimes the prescribing physicians aren’t necessarily aware of all the drugs that someone is taking, and may not be as conservative or as slow in starting the medicines as they could be. So some people may be unknowingly consuming dangerous amounts of these drugs.
Sadly, there are areas of our current culture that put people at elevated risk of death by anti-anxiety drugs.
One of the more vulnerable populations is our veterans. In fact, the Veterans Association Healthcare System has to deal with the issue of mixing medications in particular, as many veterans end up using both benzodiazepines and opioids. Dr. James Michelsen is a physician at the VA. According to Michelsen,
“Anxiety related to their combat time, problems with sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder. And traditionally these conditions benzodiazepines have been used to treat. Additionally, many of our veterans came back with physical wounds, as well.”
This becomes a serious issue when there is a lack of communication between networks of doctors, which can happen if a veteran visits a non-VA doctor and receives a prescription.
It’s not just veterans and hospitals that have problems with benzodiazepines. In fact, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medications in the United States. But it has gone beyond that and even made it into pop culture.
Drugs have always been part of the music industry. History shows us how hallucinogens like LSD influenced rock like the Beetles, and how cocaine coexisted with disco, or how heroin lingered along with jazz and blues over the years. It’s still hard to find a country song that doesn’t glorify good ol’ boys with whiskey and beer. Now, pill-popping in hip-hop and pop music is so mainstream it can be unsettling.
Along with that spotlight came greater influence. Some musicians try to paint that pretty picture with abusing anti-anxiety medications, but these drugs have taken the lives of some of the great artists of a generation. In the last several years alone we lost:
There are even others like Chris Cornell, who’s wife believed that the anti-anxiety medication he was taking is partly to blame for his suicide. Even with all the death caused by these drugs, some still glamourize prescription drug abuse in our culture. Not to mention the issue of mental health and substance use disorders already growing across the country.
Fighting Anxiety and Addiction
Personally, the risks involved with anti-anxiety drugs is troubling because a lot of my anxiety is rooted in health. It manifests at times in the side-effects of even the most mundane of medicines. Some days I can’t take an Aspirin without a secret part of me wondering if my kidneys will shut-down (which is ironic considering the years I spent polluting my body with hard drugs and excessive drinking). So while everything is going fine on the outside, my inner dialog is trying to measure and analyze every muscle movement or twitch as an indication of a terminal illness.
In reality, anti-anxiety drugs can be the difference between an everyday struggle to endure the rush of nameless terror and a window into serenity and stability. For people who can take advantage of the opportunity, it can be life-changing.
However, these drugs are nothing to take lightly, and plenty of people develop severe addictions to these drugs. Anti-anxiety medications can be fatal. Some might think they are an easy way to get a rush, they can be just as lethal as opioids. Just because they are not painkillers doesn’t mean we should underestimate their capacity to do harm.
Fighting anxiety is extremely important for people with anxiety disorder. But we have to remember the risks that come with these drugs and find a way to stay safe. This is especially true for those of us in recovery from addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment is a way to create comprehensive and holistic recovery that addresses both anxiety and addiction simultaneously in order to help people overcome their anxiety in the healthiest way possible.
If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, or any mental health disorder, please seek help. If you struggle with substance use disorder, drugs or alcohol is not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With drug abuse being a major issue facing the nation, education is extremely important. Any hope of winning the fight against rising overdose rates and the spread of drug-related illness and death starts with making sure we have as much information as possible to make a difference. On that note, explaining prescription drug abuse is critical because prescription drug abuse is a key contributor to the state of the country today.
If we want to help people avoid prescription drug abuse, or recognize the signs and know there is help, it is important to explain the reality and the risks.
What is prescription drug abuse?
Simply put- prescription drug abuse is one of two things.
- When someone takes a medication that is not their prescription
- If someone takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason
When you take prescription drugs properly they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs.
These drugs have a close relation to morphine, or the street drug heroin. Opioids are typically for pain management. Opioid addiction has become one of the biggest problems facing the country today. Drugs such as:
These drugs are also known as “downers”. You can divide the category can be up into:
Drugs such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Haldol are meant to reduce symptoms of mental illness.
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
Prescription drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Librium.
Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal are included in a class of depressants intended as sedatives or sleeping pills.
These kinds of prescription drugs are also called “uppers” or “smart drugs” because of the increase alertness, attention and energy. They also increase heart rate and respiration. Many of these medications are used to combat conditions such as ADHD, including:
Prescription drug abuse has become a big health issue because of the various health hazards. This risk is particularly true of abusing prescription pain medications.
Who abuses prescription drugs?
When asking who are most likely to abuse prescription drugs, the answer may vary depending on the substance. Some people end up participating in prescription drug abuse due to an injury or legitimate health reason, but the “high” they can experience may lead to more frequent use and ultimately a physical dependence.
Recent studies have indicated that prescription drug abuse impacts young adults most; specifically age 18 to 25. In regards to teens, after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most common substances of abuse by Americans age 14 and older.
Prescription drug abuse is present across all demographics, relevant to every social and economic class. Many believe this rise has largely contributed to the heroin addiction epidemic and the overdose outbreak in the past few years.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The Palm Partners Treatment Program has a design for prescription drug abuse intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering. Personalized recovery programs are meant to work with each individual’s circumstances and symptoms to create a blueprint for the future.
Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each people differently, especially depending on the specific prescription drug. Increased tolerance is a clear cut sign of progressive physical dependence. Some indicators of prescription drug addiction may be:
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Respiratory distress
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- High body temperature
- High blood pressure
Treatment for prescription drug addiction includes a detox period to help combat the uncomfortable symptoms of prescription drug addiction, as well as withdrawal.
For all those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse, or even abusing other drugs or medications, there is a massive community of recovery all over the country to help you get the care you need. Treatment for prescription drug abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), now that prescription pills are the most prescribed drug in America, prescription painkiller overdose is now the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Also among highly-prescribed prescription pills are the anti-anxiety drugs (benzos) like Xanax and Klonopin. In fact, prescription pills kill more pill addicts than heroin and cocaine combined. And that is why the best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL exist.
Best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL: What is Addiction?
Having an addiction also means that you continue to use despite wanting to stop and despite negative social, financial, and legal consequences. People who are addicted to pills usually experience such problems as loss of a job, marriage, and other relationships. Also, people who are pill addicted often have financial and legal troubles such as fines and even jail time as a result of their addiction, both directly and indirectly. The best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL can help.
Addiction involves a few different aspects: tolerance, meaning that you need to have more and more in order to achieve the same feeling that you used to get from smaller amounts, or lower doses; physical dependence, meaning that when you try to stop, you experience physical symptoms, known as withdrawal syndrome; and psychological dependence, which means that when you try to stop you experience extreme depression, anxiety, and a mental obsession to keep using, also a part of the withdrawal syndrome.
Best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL: Withdrawal Syndrome
It is often said, and supported by research, that the main obstacle to quitting drugs is the fear of the withdrawal symptoms. Not only can withdrawal be extremely uncomfortable, it can be potentially life-threatening. The best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL include medical detox programs that specialize in treating substance abuse and physical dependence so that you can begin to live your life without the crutch of drugs.
Best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL Step One: Detox
The first step in the process of best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL is called a medical detox. During this stage, you will be assessed in order to find out what pills you are using, for how long, and how much is currently in your system. This is done by way of a urine drug screen. Because best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL is provided in a medical setting and because drug addiction is recognized as a chronic medical condition, the results of your drug screen and information disclosed during your assessment are strictly confidential just like any other medical information is. All of this is done in order to make a treatment plan that will best serve you.
During detox, you will be giving certain medications in order to wean you off of the pills that you have been taking in both a safe and comfortable manner. Withdrawal syndrome is a very real and very serious condition that involves uncomfortable and even frightening symptoms that could lead to coma and death if not treated properly.
Best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL Step Two: Rehab
The rehab stage of best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL can last up to 30 days, sometimes longer, and offers safe haven while you heal and recover from your drug use. During rehab, you will have all your needs provided for including nice, comfortable housing and well-balanced meals while you are given key, life-saving information about substance abuse and addiction. You will attend both individual and group therapy sessions where you will begin to heal your mind while healing your body and you will learn tools and coping methods in order to live a healthy lifestyle once you complete your best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL.
If you or a loved one is seeking out the best treatment centers for pill addicts in West Palm Beach, FL please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available around the clock to address your concerns and answer your questions. You are not alone.
America’s 78 million aging baby boomers are heading into retirement and, along with more than their fair share of considerable wealth, access to health care, and higher levels of education, they are also heading into their golden years with an increasing rate of drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental illness. It’s an epidemic that has yet to be recognized, according to a recent Institute of Medicine report.
Baby Boomers: America’s Hidden Addicts
Looming Public Mental Health Crisis
Alcohol remains the top drug of abuse among the aging baby boomer generation; however, non-medical, recreational use of prescription drugs is a rapidly growing problem. Some studies estimate that up to 10% of the elderly are misusing prescription drugs that are known to have serious abuse potential, which most often include anti-anxiety drugs, known as benzodiazepines (benzos) such as Klonopin and Xanax, sleeping pills like the narcotic Ambien, and opiate painkillers like Oxycodone. When it comes to gender, women far outnumber their male counterparts regarding the non-medical use of prescription drugs: 44% of women versus 23% of men.
In order to understand the magnitude of this looming mental health crisis, it’s important to look at past populations and rates of substance abuse and mental illness and then extrapolate those numbers to the boom in the elderly population with aging baby boomers. In 2010 estimates were that six to eight million older Americans — about 14% to 20% of the overall elderly population — had one or more substance abuse or psychological disorders. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of adults aged 65 and older is projected to increase from 40 million to 73 million, and the numbers of those needing treatment stands to overwhelm the country’s mental health care system.
Why Baby Boomers Use
Rather than younger generations who generally use to “get high,” beginning after age 60, the reasons that the elderly turn to alcohol and other drugs appear fundamentally different. Typically, people who begin using as teenagers or young adults tend to do so because they are seeking that euphoric feeling or because they have significant rates of psychiatric disorders and antisocial traits. On the other hand, the baby boomers turn to alcohol and drugs to alleviate the physical and psychological pain from the onset of medical and psychiatric illness, the loss of loved ones, and increasing social isolation.
This is cause for concern because these are powerful psychoactive drugs, meaning that they have a profound effect on brain function, especially in an elderly person, who doesn’t metabolize substances as quickly or as efficiently as a younger person does and who may have ailing health. Alcohol and other drugs being used by baby boomers impair cognitive functioning, cause depression, increase the risk of falling and interact dangerously with other medications, which the aging tend to be taking a lot of. Moreover, drug and alcohol abuse in older people occurs alongside other medical and psychiatric illnesses. It’s counterproductive to treat either problem by itself; both substance abuse and mental illness much be treated simultaneously for best outcomes.
Stigma and Denial
Ageism exists and it’s perhaps the most obvious when it comes to the topic of alcoholism and drug addiction among baby boomers.
It’s difficult and even uncomfortable for many, especially for the adult children of baby boomers to come to terms with the possibility that their elderly parents might be abusing or addicted to alcohol, prescription medications, or even illicit drugs. It might even seem highly improbable. After all, the common addiction stereotype is that the typical alcohol and drug addict is a young person.
When it comes to health care providers, when they do consider the possibility of alcohol or drug abuse, doctors may fail to realize that even small amounts of alcohol or drugs can be problematic, considering metabolism rate, other medications, as well as well as increased brain sensitivity to them. Also with advanced age come cognitive impairments, which make self-reporting and self-monitoring on the part of the patient unreliable.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, regardless of their age, help is available. Please call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available around the clock, day or night. You are not alone.
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If you’re ‘one of us’ – a recovering alcoholic/addict – then you know this fun little game: Guess the DOC. Often times, there are ‘tells’ – traits, characteristics, or signs that can be a dead give-away as to what someone’s main drug of abuse was while they were in active addiction. Here is a fun little blog about what your drug of choice says about you.
image credit: wifflegif.com
Usually, people who are strictly alcoholic tend to fall into one of two categories: the party animal or the socially awkward. Those who fall into the first category might have started out as the typical college drinker, tailgating on weekends and attending all the Greek parties on campus. Their occasions (read: excuses) to drink then started blurring together where they were drinking more often than not. For those with social anxiety, alcohol is also a favorite: they find it to be the ultimate social lubricant – allowing them to lower their inhibitions and feel comfortable around others and at social gatherings.
image credit: wifflegif.com
Potheads often are hyper people, by nature. It is quite common for people who prefer marijuana to also have certain medical diagnoses such as ADD and ADHD. These folks tend to smoke a lot of pot as a way to self-medicate and chill out because they are either high-strung or find that their thoughts are firing at rapid fire speed. Pot smokers like that it slows down their thoughts and allows them to relax.
DOC: Benzos (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ambien, Ativan)
image credit: wifflegif.com
People who struggle with anxiety, PTSD and/or who have experienced some sort of traumatic event tend to abuse benzos – anxiolytic (anti-anxiety meds) – because they are designed to reduce anxious feelings. The problem with these meds is that they are highly addictive and, in fact, often cause someone’s anxiety disorder to become worse. Therapy and coping mechanisms are a much better way of handling past trauma and anxiety.
DOC: Opiates (heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, Roxys, Fentanyl, methadone)
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Being a former heroin addict, I can say that I liked opiates because they energized me and made it easy to escape reality (for a time). So, I’d say, people who are avoiding painful memories and/or dealing with depression tend to go for the opiate class of drugs. In other words, people like opiates as a way to numb themselves.
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Another type of person that gets caught up in heroin and other opiate drugs is the person who was prescribed painkillers for a legitimate reason, such as major surgery. The addicts in this category began taking painkillers as prescribed but then found themselves wanting to achieve the initial ‘high’ they felt, rather than merely taking the edge off of their pain. They would have begun to take their prescription more often and at higher doses. Sometimes, they turn to heroin when they can no longer get pills.
DOC:Amphetamines (cocaine, crack, Adderall, Ritalin)and Methamphetamine (crystal meth)
image credit: wifflegif.com
These addicts are either seeking a way to increase their energy and productivity level – such as college students pulling all-nighters – or are ‘the quiet type’ looking for a way to be the life of the party. Of course, as with any other class of drugs, any of these may have a different effect on the user depending on their particular body and brain chemistry. But, people who abuse amphetamines and/or methamphetamine generally like the speedy effect they get from taking this kind of drug.
Don’t see your particular DOC on this list? No worries, stay tuned for another installment of What Your Drug of Choice Says About You.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.