The misuse of prescription drugs is a critical public health issue in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 18 million people misused prescription drugs — including sedatives, stimulants, tranquilizers and pain relievers — in 2017. As providers write more prescriptions, the public has increased access to these substances. Some people may view prescription drugs as less harmful alternatives to illicit drugs and downplay their addictive qualities. Unfortunately, this can lead to prescription drug misuse and addiction.
Prescription drug misuse happens when an individual uses a prescription drug to get high, takes a larger dose of the drug than prescribed, takes medicine with a different method than prescribed or takes someone else’s prescription medication. It’s crucial to understand the facts about prescription drug misuse and your treatment options in Skokie, Illinois.
Prescription Drug Misuse in Skokie
Skokie, Illinois, is in Cook County near the northern border of Chicago. Both the city of Skokie and the entire state of Illinois deal with devastating prescription drug misuse. A 2017 report from the Illinois Statewide Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup sheds light on the situation with dramatic statistics:
- About 7.5 to 8% of adults ages 18 to 25 use pain relievers for non-medical use.
- Roughly 3% of adults age 26 or older use pain relievers for non-medical use.
- 9.5% of college students accessed prescription drugs they misused through legitimate prescriptions.
- Legitimate prescriptions were the top way college students obtained Vicodin, OxyContin, Valium, Xanax, Lunesta, Ambien, Cymbalta and Wellbutrin.
- 8.1% of college students accessed prescription drugs from friends at school, 8% from friends at home and 4.7% from a family member.
- In 2015, 25% of Illinois adults ages 26 to 36 who enrolled in treatment struggled with opiate addiction.
- About five to 15 emergency department visits per 10,000 in Cook County were due to prescription drug poisoning in 2015.
- 75% of drug overdose deaths in Illinois were due to opioids, compared to 63% in the United States overall.
- 24% of opioid drug overdose deaths in Illinois were individuals ages 25 to 36, and 46% were aged 35 to 54.
This data verifies that prescription drug misuse impacts multiple age groups with a variety of drug types. Though data gives a partial picture of the situation, it cannot adequately convey the complicated challenges and paths that lead individuals to prescription drug addiction.
In 2015, a representative from Skokie championed a bipartisan bill to address the opioid and heroin crisis in Illinois. His work led to House Bill 1, which created tighter regulations for opioid prescriptions, increased training and reporting requirements and a statewide drug awareness campaign. Despite these positive measures, prescription drug misuse remains a severe issue in Skokie, Illinois, and beyond.
Most Frequently Used Prescription Drugs
There are several categories of commonly misused prescription drugs. Doctors prescribe each drug type for different reasons, and the medications may produce varying effects when misused. The following are prescription drugs that pose a risk for addiction.
Doctors often prescribe opioids for pain relief following surgical procedures or for patients living with chronic conditions. Under typical use, opioids activate the brain regions responsible for feelings of reward and euphoria. These qualities make opioids a dangerous substance for misuse.
Examples of prescription opioids include:
Opioids reduce pain by attaching to and activating opioid receptor proteins in cells. This attachment prevents the receptors from transmitting pain signals. In higher-than-prescribed doses, opioids create a sense of euphoria in the body.
Antidepressants work to combat the chemical imbalances that cause depression. Though different antidepressants vary in how they treat depression, the prescriptions can all create the euphoric feeling of a stimulant when misused.
Examples of prescription antidepressants include:
Many people take antidepressants orally, but people who misuse them may administer them intravenously. Dangerous side effects from abusing prescription antidepressants range from weight loss and insomnia to seizures and delirium.
3. Central Nervous System Depressants
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants include tranquilizers, sedatives and hypnotics that impede brain activity. Doctors often prescribe these medications to treat sleep and anxiety disorders. CNS depressants fall into the following categories.
- Barbiturates: These medications treat seizure disorders and are part of some surgical procedures. Examples include Meberal, Nembutal and Luminal. Doctors sometimes prescribe barbiturates for anxiety or sleep problems, but this doesn’t often happen due to their higher risk for overdose.
- Benzodiazepines: These prescriptions may treat insomnia, seizure disorders and short-term sleeping disorders. Examples of benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Prosom and Halcion. Most providers do not prescribe benzodiazepines for long-term use because of their risk of dependence or addiction.
- Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications: These drugs work similarly to benzodiazepines, but have fewer side effects and less risk for dependence. Examples include Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien. Though these medications help people sleep and are less addictive, they can still cause problems for those who misuse them.
Most CNS depressants produce a calming or drowsy effect. With long-term use, an individual may need to take larger doses to feel the same results, which can lead to dependence and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Stimulants work to increase a user’s energy, attention and alertness, while elevating their heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Providers typically prescribe these medications to treat narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and treatment-resistant depression.
Examples of stimulants include:
Stimulants mimic the body’s natural dopamine and norepinephrine to create a feeling of euphoria. They can also constrict blood vessels, open breathing passages and increase blood glucose. When misused, stimulants may cause psychosis, paranoia, hostility, high body temperature and an irregular heartbeat.
The Impact of Prescription Drug Misuse
For every 100 people, Illinois medical professionals wrote about 45 opioid prescriptions in 2018. Though this was the lowest opioid prescription rate in Illinois since researchers first gathered the data in 2006, the impact of prescription drug misuse is still devastating. Prescription drug misuse affects nearly every aspect of an individual’s life, including the following.
- Physical effects: Prescription drug misuse may harm an individual’s body and alter their mood and behavior — even after the substance wears off. The drugs may impact their energy and immunity and increase the effects of depression and anxiety. After long-term use, an individual may show drastic and concerning personality and health changes.
- Social effects: The effects of prescription drug misuse reach beyond the user. As the addiction worsens, they may experience isolation from their friends and family who disapprove of or have suffered harm from their actions. A user may feel alienated from social functions and lose the joy they once felt from participating in hobbies or activities. Overall, prescription drug misuse can destroy relationships and job opportunities permanently if a user does not seek recovery.
- Mortal risk: Users may be at risk for death from overdose or the side effects of prescription drug misuse. Withdrawing from certain prescription drugs can also cause fatal side effects if not appropriately monitored. According to NIDA, approximately 80% of drug overdose deaths in Illinois stemmed from opioids in 2018.
Though prescription drug misuse can have destructive effects, its impact only increases when mixed with other substance use.
How Other Substance Misuse Can Worsen the Effects of Prescription Drug Misuse
Combining prescription drugs with other substances can worsen the symptoms a user experiences. The risk increases further when users mix prescription medications with alcohol. The following are some of the dangers of mixing alcohol with different prescription drugs.
- CNS depressants: Alcohol consumption, paired with CNS depressants, may lead to a slowed heart rate and breathing. These effects can lead to death, as CNS depressants already suppress an individual’s heart rate and breathing.
- Heroin: Heroin and alcohol may lead to a dangerously slow heart rate and breathing. In severe cases, it may induce a coma or lead to death.
- Opioids: Alcohol with opioids slows an individual’s breathing and heart rate, which may lead to a coma or death.
- Stimulants: Taking stimulants while drinking alcohol masks the depressant effects of alcohol. Doing so could increase a user’s risk of overdosing on alcohol and spike their blood pressure.
Despite the consequences and effects of prescription drug misuse, there is hope for those looking to break free. Prescription drug addiction treatment can help you or a loved one transition into long-term sobriety and recover a renewed sense of life.
Necessary Steps for Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction
Recovering from addiction may feel like an expensive or life-altering decision. But overcoming these barriers can provide the transformation and freedom you long for. There are a few simple steps you can take to begin your path to sobriety.
1. Recognize the Need for Treatment
Drugs and addiction can skew the brain in ways that make it difficult for a user to realize they need treatment. If you’re uncertain if you’d benefit from treatment, you can take a self-assessment to establish the scope of your substance use or misuse. It may also be beneficial to examine the ways prescription drug use has impacted your life and your loved ones’ lives. Ask a trusted friend or family member to explain the ways they believe your life could improve if you work through treatment and sobriety.
2. Find Your Motivation for Change
Keeping motivation throughout treatment can be hard, but it is crucial for reaching and maintaining recovery. When you battle challenging withdrawal symptoms and addiction cravings, motivation can make the difference between giving in and pushing through. Your motivation may come from family members, peers in the treatment program, personal faith or outside support groups. You may also draw motivation from the pros and cons you see in recovery versus continued addiction.
Wherever the motivation comes from, it can be invaluable to your success.
3. Look for a Treatment Facility
When you know you need help, you or a loved one can begin to research treatment facilities. Look for a few pivotal factors to find an effective treatment center.
- A variety of treatment programs: Each addiction case has unique elements that require an individualized approach. A facility that offers multiple treatment programs allows you to pick the type that may be most effective for your situation. At Gateway Foundation, we offer a variety of programs to target co-occurring disorders efficiently.
- Proximity to home: How you get to the facility is a crucial concern when you’re considering outpatient treatment. It may be best to choose a facility near home to ensure you have easy access to your treatment. Gateway Foundation has a convenient new outpatient location here in Skokie, Illinois, as well as many other locations around Illinois.
- Insurance acceptance: Addiction treatment can be costly at facilities that do not accept health insurance. Finding a treatment center that takes your insurance can help alleviate any financial barriers to receiving the care and treatment you need.
- Evidence-based treatment: Effective treatment is central to any addiction facility. Look for a center that provides the therapies, support groups and medically supervised withdrawal you need to achieve sobriety.
4. Enroll in a Facility That Addresses Your Needs
Once you’ve decided on a treatment facility, you can begin the admissions process. You may need to complete a variety of intake assessments to help the professionals determine how they can best serve you.
How Gateway Foundation’s New Skokie Location Treats Prescription Drug Misuse
Our new Skokie location is open, and we’re ready to walk with you through our outpatient prescription drug addiction treatment. We focus our efforts on quality treatment that makes a long-term impact. When you choose Gateway Foundation, you have our support for life. Here’s what you can expect when you partner with us in Skokie.
- Completing an initial evaluation: When you first arrive, our professionals will learn more about your history and health to tailor your treatment effectively. This phase may include a physical exam and oral interview.
- Addressing underlying health issues: As we begin addiction treatment, we pay special attention to any preexisting health conditions that may have caused you to turn to prescription drug misuse. We know that treatment may not be as effective if we do not address the health issues that co-occur with addiction.
- Developing new coping mechanisms: We aim to help you replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with constructive techniques that help you remain sober. You could learn to cope by picking up a hobby or working on altering your thought patterns through evidence-based therapies.
- Planning for lifelong sobriety: At Gateway Foundation, our priority is helping you transition into life after outpatient treatment to maintain long-term sobriety. That’s why we offer a 12-Step Facilitation program you can use for years after you’ve completed treatment.
Trust Gateway Foundation for Evidence-Based Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment in Skokie
If you or a loved one are looking to break free from prescription drug addiction, Gateway Foundation is here to help. Our evidence-based treatmentrelies on testing and scientific research to produce life-changing results. As you consider outpatient treatment in Skokie, we’re ready to guide you along the way. We have over 50 years of experience with positive outcomes for patients seeking freedom and a new life after prescription drug addiction.
For more information about our treatment options, contact us today.