Did you know that some of the most dangerous and addictive drugs may currently be in your medicine cabinet? Although often prescribed by a doctor for legitimate medical concerns, it may surprise you to learn that emergency room visits and overdose deaths related to prescription drug abuse has risen dramatically in the past 15 years. Contrary to popular belief, drugs that are prescribed by a doctor aren’t necessarily safer than those obtained illegally. Many of today’s illicit substances, such as cocaine and heroin, were once prescribed for legitimate medical purposes themselves. Although prescription medications have been formulated over the years to target specific concerns with fewer side effects, these drugs are incredibly powerful — it’s what makes them so effective at treating various medical conditions, after all — and still embody some of the risks of their predecessors. Doctors take steps to mitigate harm and ensure that patients use their medications as prescribed, by limiting refills and controlling dosage amounts, for example, but dependency and addiction may develop despite these measures.

When prescription medications are abused, the consequences are similar to those caused by drugs like methamphetamine, heroin or cocaine. Health concerns, overdose, financial troubles, relationship problems and addiction may result from the misuse of medications. Many prescription drugs can also trigger withdrawal symptoms with long-term use, making it incredibly difficult to achieve sobriety without professional intervention. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we understand that prescription drug abuse is a real problem in the United States. We offer high-quality and specialty care for individuals and their families struggling with prescription drug addiction, guiding each client through the stages of recovery so they can reclaim their health and happiness. The dangers associated with prescription drug abuse are significant and we are committed to helping individuals recover before they are swept away by the growing epidemic.

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction can happen quickly and without warning and may involve a wide variety of medications. Even someone who begins using their prescriptions as directed may find themselves hooked if they take an incorrect dose or use a medication for too long. Prescription drugs often exhibit signs of abuse that mimic illicit substances, but some indications may suggest a problem with medications, such as:

  • Doctor shopping
  • Requesting early refills
  • Frequently replacing “lost” or “stolen” prescriptions
  • Empty pill bottles
  • Drug paraphernalia such as straws, needles and razor blades
  • Taking higher amounts than prescribed
  • Going through prescriptions too quickly
  • Drug-seeking behavior
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Crushing or breaking safety seals on pills
  • Stealing medications from others
  • Frequently appearing intoxicated

Numerous medications are misused to produce a high or other desired effect, but the most dangerous and commonly abused prescription drugs are benzodiazepines, stimulants and opioids.

Prescription Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines or benzos are a group of drugs used to produce a calming effect. Also known as tranquilizers, well-known medications such as Valium, Xanax and Klonopin fall into this category. They are used to treat a variety of conditions from anxiety and insomnia to seizures and alcohol withdrawal, and as a result, are one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States. Due to their effects and widespread availability, they are also one of the most commonly abused. Although the risk of overdose is low if used as directed, benzodiazepines are often taken with alcohol, opioids and other drugs to enhance their effects, sometimes with lethal consequences.

Benzodiazepines affect certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), to produce muscle relaxant, sedative and hypnotic effects. Frequent use of benzodiazepines can lead to dependence and addiction, which results in uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal effects that can lead to seizures, tremors, hallucinations, psychosis and delusions. Without proper treatment, these symptoms can become life-threatening and require careful monitoring to ensure the drug is safely eliminated from the body. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we provide around-the-clock medical supervision and comprehensive treatment for clients who are detoxing from benzodiazepines and other drugs. With an experienced support staff, dedicated medical team and access to care on a 24/7 basis, we are highly qualified to provide patients with a safe and comfortable detox experience that effectively addresses their unique needs.

Prescription Stimulants

Stimulants are known for their energizing effects and are often used to treat conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. The most popular prescription stimulant is the amphetamine Adderall, followed closely by Ritalin and Dexedrine. These drugs are chemically similar to methamphetamine and produce comparable effects, which include increased energy, an enhanced ability to focus and concentrate, decreased need for food or sleep, increased heart rate and a sense of euphoria. When used as directed, prescription stimulants can help those with ADHD and other conditions control their symptoms, but college students and young adults often abuse these drugs to stay awake longer, increase productivity or earn better grades.

When taken for a long period of time, prescription stimulants impair one’s ability to feel pleasure by impacting certain receptors in the brain. When entering treatment prescription stimulant addiction, individuals may have difficulty enjoying the hobbies and activities that once brought them happiness and often experience withdrawal symptoms similar to methamphetamine. This may include depression, anxiety, irritability, a lack of energy, trouble concentrating and more. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, our comprehensive recovery plans are deeply personalized to address these symptoms and include a variety of therapeutic and behavioral treatments that encompass each individual’s mental, emotional and physical needs as they progress through recovery. Our goal is to teach clients how to live and enjoy life without relying on stimulants while giving them the tools they need to achieve sustainable, long-term recovery.

Prescription Opioids

Opioids are the most abused prescription medications in the United States and include both synthetic and semi-synthetic painkillers such as fentanyl, OxyContin and Vicodin. Prescription opioids work in the same way as illicit drugs such as heroin, binding to opioid receptors in the brain to induce feelings of warmth, well-being and euphoria. They also share many of the same side effects, such as slowed breathing, drowsiness, constipation and itchiness. If used for a long period of time, prescription opioids lead to physical dependency as the brain begins to rely on them to function properly. Even when taken as directed, tolerance and addiction can develop quickly as these drugs activate the same reward pathways as heroin or morphine and trigger cravings and withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped.

In the United States, the dangers of opioid drugs and the alarming rate at which they are being prescribed have created an epidemic that puts millions at risk of addiction, overdose and death. At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we understand that treating an opioid or prescription painkiller addiction has become more urgent than ever. Our dedicated team handles opioid-related withdrawal symptoms with expertise and utilizes an effective blend of evidence-based therapies, relapse prevention techniques and medication-assisted treatment to help clients achieve long-term recovery. Managing triggers, dealing with stressors, and eliminating cravings to reduce the risk of relapse or overdose is also an important part of our approach, helping patients maintain their sobriety long after treatment.

Fentanyl and the Opioid Epidemic

One of the most notorious and dangerous prescription drugs is fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that deserves special mention since it has contributed significantly to overdose-related deaths in the past few years. Synthesized in 1960 by Paul Janssen, fentanyl was created to be a safe, fast-acting and potent opioid that could be used as an anesthetic or to manage acute and chronic pain. Unlike other opioids, fentanyl is so strong that it could be absorbed through the skin, leading to the development of transdermal patches, films, “kid-friendly” lollipops, sprays and other novel ways of administering the drug.

Although the original production process was slow and difficult, copycat chemists soon began to streamline fentanyl synthesis so it could be illicitly produced. It didn’t take long for drug traffickers, dealers and others to discover the potential money that could be made from fentanyl. Since it is 100 times more potent than morphine and doesn’t require farmland or field workers, a single bag of fentanyl can net millions of dollars compared to other drugs.

Over the past few years, fentanyl has made its way into the drug supply to increase the value of illicit substances. Commonly pressed to look like legitimate prescription opioids or mixed with heroin to increase its potency, many users are unaware that they’re taking fentanyl. This has led to a surge in overdose-related deaths attributed to synthetic opioids across the U.S., increasing 264 percent from 2012 to 2015. Although the risks associated with opioid use were always high, the rise of fentanyl and the presence of counterfeit OxyContin and other pills have worsened the situation dramatically.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we understand that prescription drug addiction is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach. We provide a wide array of treatment services designed to help clients achieve long-term sobriety, beginning with medically-supervised detox. Withdrawal from prescription medications can be especially dangerous, leading to symptoms that often include anxiety, depression, insomnia, seizures, delusions and more, depending on the drug or combination of drugs involved. If these symptoms aren’t managed properly, it negatively impacts the overall treatment experience and affects an individual’s chance at lasting recovery.

In addition to medically-supervised detox, we offer a variety of evidence-based, holistic and experiential therapies in an intimate setting to address the needs of clients from all walks of life. Our approach builds upon the foundations of proven methods and combines these techniques with highly individualized and flexible recovery plans to ensure that each client receives the care they need. Our treatment programs utilize the following:

  • Medically-supervised detox
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • 12-step integration
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Holistic modalities
  • Nutritional support and physical fitness
  • Chemical dependency education
  • Family and community support
  • Relapse prevention

Although many individuals seek treatment for prescription benzodiazepines, stimulants and opioids, countless legitimately prescribed drugs are also addictive. Medications such as sleep aids, cough syrups and muscle relaxants are also commonly abused and new drugs are being developed every day. If you find a suspicious pill and are worried that someone you care about is abusing prescription drugs, various resources available online can help you identify it to determine if your loved one is using a dangerous or addictive medication.

Contact Journey Hillside Tarzana

At Journey Hillside Tarzana, we understand that making the decision to seek treatment for prescription drug addiction can be difficult. Our facility is located in the beautiful Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles to make the process easier and offer clients a high degree of privacy, seclusion and comfort. Equipped with luxury amenities and an experienced team of professionals that go above and beyond to provide deeply personalized care, we are uniquely equipped to help clients navigate the challenges of prescription drug recovery and achieve lasting sobriety. If you or someone you care about is struggling with prescription drug addiction, contact or call us today at xxx-xxx-xxxx to learn more about our programs and how they can help.